I am doing a lot of the writing for the website this week. I hope that you enjoy it. You are probably stuck with it for the next year anyway, but I'd rather hear good things than bad.

Joe Moore, medic5740@gmail.com

Christmas Spirit Alive and Well on Beaver Island

You might think that the population level on Beaver Island being so low in numbers during the off-season might cause the Christmas Spirit to be depressed due to the lower numbers. This is definitely not true on this Emerald Isle during this Christmas Season judging by the decorations that can be seen as one drives around the harbor area AND the back roads. It is definitely not true when you check out the attendance of the three Christmas services held at the Island 's three churches. It was pretty much impossible to attend all three based on the evening schedule of two of them, but attending two out of three seemed to be more the norm than attending only one except for those living at the south end of the island. The weather here was actually quite warm enough that I played nine holes of golf with my friend Frank Solle between the two services that my family attended. For those interested, Frank and I decided that we tied, and we swore that neither of us would reveal what the tie score was. I will only say that our score would not have won any trophies in the Fourth of July Golf Tournament. I had fun playing, but I really missed the snow on Christmas morning.

Our family attended the Beaver Island Christian Church service which took place at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, giving the pastor and his wife, Steve and Charlene Skinner, and others an opportunity to fly off the island and join family for Christmas. From the music beginning the service to the music ending the service, the congregation and visitors were blessed by the contributions and talents of many. The room was quite full especially when the children joined the adults at the end of the service. The chimes, the piano/flute/violin trio, the vocal soloist, and the choir joined in with the congregation singing to provide a “glorious noise.” Steve's short message was memorable including his reference to providing the things that people needed when he asked one congregation member, “If I needed five hundred dollars, I feel quite comfortable in knowing that I could get the help that I needed. Isn't that true …..?” The pregnant pause, and the response were precious. “Oh, you wanted a response, didn't you?”

There was also a boat parade organized by John and Carol Runberg which we missed. We tried to make it down there at the time the parade was to happen, but we checked and drove around the harbor area from about 5:30 until 6:15 , and it was time to get home and get ready for the next church service. Phyllis said we probably couldn't have gotten any pictures of a moving boat at night after dark anyway. If somebody did, we'd gladly post it here next week.

The in-laws attended the Episcopal Mission's service which began at 7 p.m. Phil and Lil described the service as very similar to the Christian Church service with the same readings. This service was well attended as well with some visitors from the Christian Church attending this one as well as the regulars, and “some strangers that we didn't know.”

The Holy Cross Catholic Church as full for the midnight mass's celebration beginning at 7:45 p.m. with the singing of well-known Christmas carols. The blessing of the stained glass windows took place right after the blessing of the nativity. The Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria” was played by violin and organ. All of the parts of the mass were sung by Tami McDonough and choir accompanied by Lorraine Dawson on organ. Sheri Timsak sang a beautiful solo with Lorraine also. When I looked down to the church pews from the choir loft, I was amazed at the attendance. The church was FULL. I didn't think that happened in the off-season especially during the winter holidays. Father Pat told a funny story that I probably won't tell as well, but I thought it very appropriate for the Beaver Island Congregation:

There was a small congregation in a small church that didn't seem to participate much in the mass so the priest decided to stir things up a little bit. He had his altar boys trained to send down some “great balls of fire” whenever he would use that phrase in his sermon. The “balls of fire” were made of some cotton material that caused them to glow brightly in different colors when they were lit with a match. The cotton balls lit up the altar, but went out very quickly so there was no worry about starting the church on fire. The altar boys were to light them immediately and send them down over the altar from the choir loft that was located above the altar whenever the priest used the phrase “great balls of fire.” The rehearsal went off without a hitch, and the priest was quite prepared to create a stir in his church during the next mass. The priest was going to get a reaction from his congregation. The altar boys were in their position at the right time as the priest was giving his sermon, and when the priest used the phrase, “and the Lord sent down great balls of fire to warn the people,” nothing happened. Thinking that his timing was not very good or that the boys were not in position, he gave more of his sermon, and again said, “The great balls of fire got the people's attention.” Again nothing happened, and it was silent in the church. Then a tentative, almost squeaky voice said from the choir loft, “And the Lord sent a cat who pee-ed on the matches.”

I thought that the whole congregation was also ready to put those matches out because the laughter was amazing. Any tension in the air was automatically broken. Everyone was awake and listening now. The mass proceeded as always, but this special moment will not be forgotten soon. Now, here is a priest that can set you at ease. Humor can do amazing things.

Christmas Spirit lacking on Beaver Island ? Not a chance! With no actual church service on Beaver Island on Christmas Day, you might think the spirit would not be high. It was actually higher, in my opinion, because families and friends could spend the entire day together chatting over old times and remembering old acquaintances. The gathering of the Gregg family was quite small this year with only two Greggs, Phil and Lil, and the Moore's, Joe, Phyllis, Courtney, and Andrea, but even this group had a great Christmas breakfast. I think the breakfast get-together ended with, “You remember the old ………, who lived on………….., and his son/daughter had…………… Now (s)he was a quite a ………. I've never seen anything like it and probably won't ever again.” Great stories, great music, great company, and great food make this another great and memorable Christmas.



Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus a Delight for Children of All Ages

It seems to me that just about every year at this time Beaver Island gets a visit from Mr. and Mr. Santa Claus a little while before the long worldwide trip must begin. Santa and Mrs. Claus want to check with the Beaver Island youngsters to find out what kind of presents to bring on his North American route. The Claus's find a very nice group of children waiting to tell them how good and how nice each child has been. I know several of these children, and they might be nice children, but nobody can be as good as these children tell Santa and Mrs. Claus, at least not that good in one year. Maybe each is remembering only the wonderful things that they have done for however many years each has been alive. If that is true, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus must have a warehouse of gifts waiting for them when they finish the work on Christmas morning. Thank you Santa and Mrs. Claus for all that you do to make the smiles come to our Beaver Island children's faces.

School's Out for Holiday Vacation

I think I mentioned in the last article that I had used my Christmas Eve day to go to the Beaver Island Golf Course with my friend Frank Solle. We probably would have gone today, Christmas Day, except we plan to live to play another day. Our wives, friends, and relatives would probably have gleefully hung us from the highest rafter possible, if we had even suggested the activity that was really on our minds from the moment that each of us got up this morning. How do I know what Frank was thinking? It's pretty simple. When you have the golf bug, it's worse than any viral infection that you have ever had. You just have to get yourself moving with a golf swing and a walk in the fairly wild setting of the golf course. At least on Beaver Island , you get the opportunity to view all kinds of wildlife. Like the people driving by the golf course yesterday. We knew what they were thinking, “There's a couple of absolute golf idiots. It's Christmas time. Nobody in Northern Michigan plays golf at Christmas time---maybe down South in the Carolinas, Georgia , or Florida .” Frank and I just laughed about what they were probably thinking as we moved on to the second tee.

The reason the title is about school being out is pretty obvious to me, so I'll make it just as obvious for you. Frank and I would not have had the opportunity to get outside and participate in our favorite sport if school had not been out for holiday vacation. Normally, I would have to be at school correcting papers and writing lesson plans for the following week on a Sunday afternoon during the regular school year. Frank would usually be cutting wood or doing some project around his home. So today, even though it's not Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the Holiday Vacation time that allowed us to do our thing on the golf course. This, of course, means that there will be no sports at all on the website this week. There were no volleyball or basketball games. There was no garbage pickup by the junior class. There were no papers to correct, and I have a few more days to wait until I have to write the lesson plans. So, Frank, what are you doing on Tuesday or Wednesday?

Rural EMS IS Different-

A Historical Account of 20 Years of BIEMS

By Joseph A. Moore

I have taken some time to sit down and put together some information about the last twenty years of Beaver Island Emergency Medical Services. These reflect my memories and my viewpoints, and I take full responsibility for them. Here is the Preface, which is the history as I remember it. This is completely unedited, so you are getting straight from the keyboard.

Preface—The History of Beaver Island EMS

Beaver Island EMS was a conception begun by Dr. Joseph Christie and both township governments on or around 1975 when an old Red Cross ambulance was purchased for Dr. Christie and a twin engine aircraft was acquired to transport emergency patients. Unfortunately, both the old ambulance and the aircraft were gone before the true beginning of Beaver Island EMS.

Michael F. McGinnity, RN, re-established the need for prehospital care and transportation when he initiated the contact with LifeLink, Inc. from Petoskey , Michigan to offer the first Basic EMT class on Beaver Island in 1985. Students in the first class included Ruth Gregg, Perry and Sandy Fortier, Roger Laars, Mike McGinnity, John and Joyce Runberg, and Bill McDonough. John LaMont was the instructor for this course offered on Beaver Island . The beginning group initiated a purchase of an old ambulance from Mackinac City , and began the work of stocking it with supplies.

The second EMT class occurred the following year with John LaMont, Larry Hansen , and Mike McGinnity taking turns teaching the program in 1986. The students in the second class included Neal and Connie Boyle, Ruth Gregg, Bill Markey, Jim Hibbler, Mary Delamater, Jerry Sowa, and Joe Moore. Quite a few of the successful students from the first class left the Island which required the second class.

From this second EMT class developed the leadership to form an organization with Neal Boyle, president; Bill Markey, Vice-President; Connie Boyle, treasurer; and Joyce Runberg, Secretary. The official beginnings were in 1986, but the organization was fully up and running with two divisions in May 1987. The two divisions included a land and water division of Beaver Island Emergency Medical Services and Rescue, which were individually headed by Neal Boyle, the land division, and by Alan Muma , the water division. Alan Muma, the BI deputy sheriff, was the first recognize the need for a rescue boat to help stranded visitors and to have the ability to rescue people in the water. The original organizational motto was “Islands of Safety”.

After several months, Bill Markey became the new acting president, and the first on-call list was published. Many hours were spent fundraising to better equip the organization for its noble mission. In July of 1988, a new leader emerged and was elected president. Jerry Sowa, as a retired marine officer, had the experience to lead the organization and to move it forward. Under his leadership, the first EMT-Specialist class was taught. Those completing this class included Joe Moore, Bill Markey, Jerry Sowa, and Mike McGinnity. Bill Markey took the helm in November 1988 and realized that we needed an Island-based education program so he sent Joe Moore off the Island to take the EMT Instructor Coordinator program in April 1989.

During Bill Markey's presidency several important changes took place to make Beaver Island EMS more professional. A State of Michigan approved special study was written to allow the Beaver Island EMT-Specialists to use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), to start Intravenous fluids, and to place a tube in the trachea of a cardiac arrest patient, but BIEMS was unable to participate without the equipment in October 1989.

The Beaver Island Medical Center helped sponsor a fundraising campaign named “Hundred with a Heart” to raise the necessary money for the AED. The campaign was very successful and a plaque was purchased to mark this historic event, and included engraving the names of all who donated to make this successful.

Bill Markey also was successful in improving the emergency communications on Beaver Island . In August of 1990, the repeater tower went up near the old Peaine Township hall. This repeater tower is still in use today. Bill Markey is also responsible for the completion of the OSHA required “Clean Room” in the ambulance garage. Bill deserves a big thank you for all this work in getting these accomplished.

In 1991, after Alan Muma had left Beaver Island , a new rescue boat captain became involved. Jim Owens , also a deputy sheriff like Alan Muma, became the contact person for stranded vessels in northern Lake Michigan . While Jim Owens was the rescue boat captain, the boat was used for true water rescue, for towing stranded vessels, for helping lost vessels, and for training. Several BIEMS personnel became trained by a retired United State Coast Guard Commander and author of the Water Rescue textbook published by Mosby Lifeline. This training encompassed personal rescue, victim rescue, water search and rescue, and land search and rescue. In June of 1992, the township governments decided to raffle the rescue boat and dedicate the money from the raffle to purchase of water rescue equipment.

After Bill Markey stepped down as the president (chairperson), Joe Moore took over as chairperson. Then Mike and Bev Russell became involved in BIEMS which was probably the most productive history of BIEMS. BIEMS received a Rural EMS grant to purchase training equipment so that necessary training for EMTs could continue. Mike and Bev helped out in so many way that they can't all be listed here, but some include financial solvency with millage for BIEMS, fiscal and operations reports to the township, and State of Michigan approved education sponsorship. Bev and Mike Russell were also part of the first paramedic program ever taught on Beaver Island which included Joe Moore, Karl Kiss, and Bob Hamil . Mike and Bev Russell worked diligently to get BIEMS up to the Advanced Life Support (ALS) level that allows Beaver Island to provide the same level of care as an agency in the “big city”.

Most recently Joe Moore has shared this chairperson position with Gerald LaFreniere , and now the current Executive Director of BIEMS is Sarah McCafferty.

The current membership includes Tim McDonough, Joe Timsak, Jim Stambaugh, Abigail Adams, Emily Gray, Michelle LaFreniere, and John Works, Jr ., as medical first responders (61 hours of training); Basic EMTs Cindy Gillespie, Dawn Traficante, Christy Albin, Sarah McCafferty, and Karen Whitecraft (200+ hours of training;) EMT-Specialists Gerald LaFreniere (300+ hours of training); and Joe Moore and Ken Bruland , paramedics. In addition to this resident group of EMS providers, during the summer months, BIEMS also have two paramedics and instructors Lisa and Steve Rose, both paramedic instructors at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek , Michigan .

Recently, Steve and Lisa Rose with local instructor Joe Moore have taught a second paramedic program on the Island . Students in the program included Sarah McCafferty, Ken Bruland, and Dawn Traficante. It will be late August before any of these people will be able to license at the paramedic level. The hours totaled for all training up to and including this paramedic program total 1200+ hour of training.

Beaver Island EMS has three vehicles to respond to emergencies. Two of those are diesel fueled ambulances, Type III, which is a van chasis with a box on the back of the chasis, one is licensed at the Basic Life Support Level, Fifty-seven Alpha One, and the other is licensed at the Advanced Life Support Level, Fifty-seven Alpha Two. The other vehicle is called the Echo car which means it has all of the equipment necessary to make it an advanced life support vehicle. Beaver Island EMS has been licensed at the Advanced Life Support (ALS) level since the year 2000.

Transportation of the ill or injured victim is still the main focus of Beaver Island EMS and will remain its main mission. As we move into the future, we need to work (as a community) toward making this mission as easy a possible for our volunteer EMS . Discussions need to take place on how to transport an ill or injured patient from the Island to the mainland in a more efficient manner.