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Alter Egos: Tom Church/Michelle Jackson

  Cover Story  

Tom Church, controller
One morning a brief announcement was made in our church that the community was in need of people to volunteer for the Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance Service. After discussions with my wife, she encouraged me to pursue the Emergency Medical Technician training. That was 13 years ago and it is now hundreds of ambulance calls later. I found that emergency medicine "gets in your blood." It's not that you wish anyone to experience an accident or illness, but being trained in knowing what to do creates an eagerness to help if needed.

Being called away from the office or a warm bed in the middle of the night is not considered fun but there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are being counted on to come through in a difficult situation. One aspect of living in a close-knit community of 3,800 is that there is a good chance you know, or know of, the patient. It adds a special dimension to patient care when we can treat not only the patient but support and encourage the family members as well. I sense an attitude of deep patient gratitude though many times it cannot be verbalized.

Emergency medicine is a dramatic change of pace from the accounting and financial management duties of a small-college controller. It has helped me put some aspects of life in perspective and to deal better with job stresses and the occasional difficult person. My experience as president of the Linn County Emergency Medical Services Association for the past three years, in turn, has helped me in administrative ways in the Business Office here at Cornell as it relates to risk management and insurance, which are the responsibility of the controller.

The exposure to this part of life has broadened my horizons and helped me to try new things in other various areas and not to be as hesitant to go up against uncertainty or crisis.

Michelle Jackson, prospect researcher
I'm an EMT. I volunteer for the Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance during the day and I'm the coordinator for the Stanwood Ambulance Service where I live. Currently, I'm taking a nine-month paramedic class and I'll be done with that in May. I got involved in EMS because I like to help people. You really must have a desire to go into a potentially difficult situation and do your best to make it better, whether it's doing CPR or just holding a person's hand. It takes a lot of time and dedication as well as a lot of support from friends and family, especially on those nights when you are paged out at 2 in the morning.

About eight years ago, Jerry Inman, who volunteers for the Stanwood Ambulance, asked me if I'd be interested in taking the EMT course and then join the service. I've been hooked ever since.

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