Tragedy Inspires Responders to Serve

TRAGEDIES, ONE PERSONAL, OTHERS PROFESSIONAL, INSPIRED KRISTINA AND LANCE STILLWAUGH TO BECOME FIRST RESPONDERS. I’M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE FOR THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. WHEN LANCE STILLWAUGH WAS A STUDENT AT FORT LEWIS COLLEGE IN THE LATE 1980s, HE CAME HOME ONE DAY TO FIND HIS FIANCE IN THE BEDROOM AND UNRESPONSIVE AFTER A GRAN-MAL SEIZURE. HE CALLED 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY, BUT DIDN’T KNOW CPR. UNFORTUNATELY, SHE DID NOT SURVIVE.
I MADE A COMMITMENT TO MYSELF THAT I WOULDN’T LET THAT HAPPEN TO ME AGAIN. SO I WENT BACK AND OBTAINED MY EMT CERTIFICATION, MY CPR CERTS, AND, THAT WAS IN COLORADO SPRINGS. THEN I MOVED BACK TO DURANGO AND APPLIED AT ANIMAS FIRE IN THE NINETIES, AND THEN I WAS ACCEPTED. AND FROM THERE I STARTED MY FIRE CAREER. KRISTINA STILLWAUGH SAW TRAGEDY AS AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER WHO HELPED CLIENTS THROUGH THEIR RECOVERY FROM DEVASTATING FIRES, FLOODS AND STORMS. BUT HER PRIMARY FOCUS WAS ON LARGE FIRES AND INVESTIGATING THEIR CAUSES. WHEN THE FIRE INSPECTOR’S POSITION CAME UP AT THE DURANGO FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT,  SHE APPLIED AND WAS ACCEPTED. NOW SHE HELPS GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, BUSINESSES AND HOMEOWNERS PREVENT FIRES BY IDENTIFYING BUILDING CODE VIOLATIONS OR OTHER HAZARDS, A MORE GRATIFYING JOB THAN DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH.
THE PEOPLE THAT I’VE BEEN WORKING WITH HAVE BEEN VERY APPRECIATIVE ACTUALLY. ONE OF THE LOCAL BANKS HERE, I WENT IN AND DID AN INSPECTION A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, AND WE FOUND SEVEN RECALLED POWER STRIPS THAT HAVE BEEN SETTING FIRES AND THEY HAD SEVEN IN THEIR FACILITY AND THEY WERE, THEY DID, THEY HAD NO IDEA. AND THEY WERE VERY APPRECIATIVE THAT WE CAUGHT IT. THEY, THEY HAVE NO IDEA THAT THAT WAS EVEN REMOTELY AN ISSUE. SO IT WAS, IT WAS REALLY NICE AND THEY WERE VERY SWEET ABOUT IT. THEY WERE JUST THANKFUL THAT SOMEBODY KNEW IT MIGHT BE A PROBLEM.LANCE’S ROAD TOO THE DURANGO FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT FIRST LED HIM BACK TO COLORADO SPRINGS, HIS HOMETOWN, AFTER GRADUATING FROM FORT LEWIS AND WORKING FOR A WHILE FOR THE ANIMAS FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT. HE WAS WORKING FOR THE FALCON, COLORADO, FIRE DEPARTMENT WHEN HE MET KRISTINA ON A DATE SET UP BY HER MOTHER AND ONE OF HIS FRIENDS. THREE YEARS AGO, THEY DECIDED TO MOVE BACK TO DURANGO TO BE CLOSER TO THE MOUNTAINS, WHERE THEY ENJOY FOUR-WHEELING, HIKING, BIKING, CAMPING, FISHING, HUNTING AND PADDLEBOARDING WITH THEIR TWO KIDS, PAIGE AND AUSTIN. LANCE VOLUTEERED FOR THE DURANGO FIRE DISTRICT UNTIL HE RECENTLY WAS HIRED AS A RESERVE FIREFIGHTER AND EMT. BOTH LANCE AND KRISTINA SAY THEY LOVE THEIR WORK AND SERVING THE COMMUNITY. THEIR ADVICE TO OTHERS? LEARN C P R. AND PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED TO IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES FOR SURVIVAL AND RECOVERY IN THE EVENT YOU’RE FACED WITH AN ACCIDENT OR DISASTER.EVERYBODY WOULD AT LEAST LEARN CPR. AND YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. AND THEY MAY BE WALKING DOWNTOWN MAIN STREET, OR YOU MAY BE IN A RESTAURANT OR, AND SOMEBODY DOESN’T FEEL GOOD OR SOMEBODY COLLAPSES. KNOWING CPR AND HOW TO HELP. SOMEBODY CAN REALLY HAVE AN IMPACT, EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN AED ONSITE. JUST GETTING IT STARTED UNTIL THE CREWS CAN SHOW UP AND THEN HAVE THAT ADVANCED LIFE CARE. SO ABC’S AIRWAY BREATHING CIRCULATION, JUST MAKE SURE THAT YOU’RE OPENING THEIR AIRWAY AND THEN STARTING CPR.

LANCE AND I HAVE BEEN EVACUATED FOR A COUPLE OF FIRES ALREADY, WILDFIRES NEAR OUR HOME. HAVE YOUR DOCUMENTS READY. HAVE YOUR WATER SUPPLY. HAVE JUST BASICS OF SELF PRESERVATION, JUST BASICS. SO THAT’S, I THINK THAT THAT’S HELPFUL, THE CPR, THE FIRST AID AND KNOWING WHERE YOUR STUFF IS SO THAT YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF IN AN EMERGENCY IS IMPORTANT.THANKS FOR MEETING YOUR FIRST RESPONDERS, BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE BANK OF THE SAN JUANS, ONE HAPPY LITTLE BANK, AND THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK.  I’M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE.

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