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Fresh Faces to Lead Norfolk Ambulance

Group selects new roster of officers

 

By Leila Javitch

The Norfolk Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team is complex but flexible group of highly trained individuals. It is really unique in that it is only one of a half dozen ambulance crews in the state that remain completely volunteer and charge no fees for services. This dedicated group has a strong sense of family and loyalty to each other. Every member’s desired schedule is accommodated, and some (especially the officers) are almost always on the job. In late May, four new officers were elected for the Norfolk Ambulance.

In her day job, Kitty Hickox, the ambulance corps’ new chief, is a middle school science teacher.

The new elected chief is Kitty Hickcox, who has been an EMS responder since 1992, when she volunteered in the Boston area. She has been back in Connecticut and on the Norfolk ambulance for 10 years. She teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science at the Indian Mountain School. As chief, she is in charge of all the emergency runs the responders make and is the medical command for all complex accidents such as fires or car crashes. Hickcox takes over the chief’s reins from Christopher Little, the much appreciated outgoing chief. Little will continue to volunteer with the team as a responder.

The new deputy chief, Jon Riedeman, joined the team after witnessing EMS members rescue a man who collapsed from a near-fatal heart attack 18 years ago.

Riedeman is a sculptor working presently with free-standing pedestal-sized pieces and reliefs 0f bronze and fired clay. As deputy chief, he is responsible for personnel issues. He reviews the reports of all ambulance service calls and transfers them to an electronic chart kept by the state. He chooses one or two calls to be reviewed by all members for training purposes.

Mark Tonan is the team’s new captain. He joined the EMS as a driver when he was 18 years old. This is his 18th year as an executive officer of the ambulance. He runs a bustling garden service with his wife, Mari Consolini, and has created beautiful spaces all over Norfolk. As captain, he is in charge of keeping the ambulance in tip-top condition and maintaining the many medical supplies it carries. There is a four-page check list mandated by the state to “help” him do this.

Dan Wuori is taking over as training officer. He works with a doctor in Canaan, where he has also served on the Canaan ambulance. He now lives in Norfolk and is married to Kitty Hickcox. Wuori must ensure that all training requirements are met by ambulance members. He might be responsible for a review of CPR or instruction in how and when to give Narcan for an opioid overdose. The former training officer, Bill Brodnitski, served for several decades and still volunteers as a responder.

Serving beside the new officers are other people who perform duties vital to keeping the EMS team moving like clockwork. Suzanne Funchion is in charge of scheduling, and her skill at this is described by other members as “heroic.” Matt Ludwig, who also heads the fire department, is the senior calls dispatcher. Julie Green is the president of the EMS, a primarily administrative role. Green is also concerned with fund-raising, as are Suzanne Hinman, the emergency medical technician (EMT) representative, and Grant Mudge, who doubles as the safety officer. Kevin Haitsch is communications officer and in charge of keeping radios and pagers working.

Chris Peterson is the driver representative. He trains new drivers in the multi-tasking that the job demands: using the lights, running the siren and communicating on the radio all at the same time. Last but not least, Sandy Evans, a longtime EMT who has served both as captain and deputy chief, cooks up dinner for the EMS monthly meetings in addition to her EMT duties.

The Norfolk Ambulance is well supported by the community, although additional funds are always welcome. The State of Connecticut makes many requirements but does not always provide money to support these requirements. For example, medicines which don’t have a long shelf life are expensive. Narcan, used for opioid overdoses, costs $40 a dose and is not reimbursed by the state. The annual fund-raiser for the Norfolk Ambulance will be held Friday, July 28, on the main stage at Infinity Hall. There will be delicious food by Chef Lisa and great music by Grant Mudge, Alanna Sinclair and Soul Case. Call 860-542-5531 for tickets.

To remain a volunteer group, which the Norfolk ambulance members hope to do, requires an ample stream of recruits. There’s nothing as comforting as having a neighbor you know rush you to the hospital. Three members are required to answer each call: a driver, an emergency medical responder (EMR) and the most highly-trained emergency medical technician (EMT). Anyone wishing to volunteer in any capacity for the EMS team is encouraged to contact one of the members or call the office at 860-542-5077.

Photo, top, by Bruce Frisch: Dan Wuori (left), Jon Riedeman (center) and Mark Tonan are new or renewing officers of the Norfolk Lions Club Volunteer Ambulance. The new chief, Kitty Hickox, is pictured in the inset.

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