25 September 2008

Requiem for a friend

I was called this morning and informed that a dear friend from my old rescue company died during the night. I sent the following to the Fairmont Times-West Virginian today:

We see Marion County Rescue Squadʼ's ambulances driving at a pretty good speed when their red lights are flashing. Not Wednesday night, though.

Around 3 AM, two MCRS rigs, lights flashing, slowly pulled away from a residence on Coleman Avenue, one behind the other with a hearse in between. They accompanied the body of Alice Polis to R.C. Jones/Ford Funeral Home for her final arrangements. This was not a public display; it was the middle of the night, and there was no one there to see. It was an expression of grief and loving honor to one of the countyʼ's "unsung heroes," and one of the hardest-working founding volunteers of the Rescue Squad.

Alice Polis was there from the start, and was prominent in the "Watson hill" years, when the Squad occupied cramped rental quarters below Bunnyʼs [bar] at the top of the hill. At that time, the ambulances were staffed entirely by volunteers, 24/7. She started as an Emergency Medical Technician, and around 1978, Alice became one of the countyʼ's first paramedics. On her tens of thousands of alarms, when Alice was with patients, she was unflappable. She made decisions, wasted no time, took care of the patient, and took them to the hospital.

A lot of Aliceʼ's work was absolutely invisible to public. Alice was one of the regionʼ's outstanding instructors. She taught many of West Virginiaʼ's EMS people their first EMT class. In fact, she gave the first training to two of the very, very experienced chief officers who now lead the Rescue Squad. Alice served on the Board of Directors of the Rescue Squad, where her business experience helped turn a low-budget volunteer operation into an increasingly efficient and effective healthcare organization. Alice was instrumental in the funding campaign to construct Station 20, the current Third Street station. Alice was one of the visionaries who saw that the nature of the regional economy and the growth of the county required that the Rescue Squad expand its services and hire career EMTʼ's and paramedics.

In the news this week, we have Wall Streeters making tens of millio ns in salaries and stock options crying for handouts and bailouts. What irony. Alice Polis worked well over 1,000 hours per year FOR FREE.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." That can be done in a sudden, brave gesture or with the constant, faithful, devoted and selfless service gave to her friends and to this county. Wednesday night was just the last of thousands of alarms that she answered.

I'm glad that they turned out the station last night. I don't know who that's done for, the dead or the living. But as God is my witness, Alice deserved it.

Pippa passes.


1 comment:

Kendra said...


Words cannot express how much your kind words mean to my family. My grandmother would be beaming...the honor and respect shown to her by MCRS is unbelievable and truly touching. Not only was she escorted from the house, but today they also escorted her from the Ford funeral home on east side to the one on Country Club. The love shown to her has touched us all so much! I just wanted to thank you. Mamaw would thank you too.


Kendra (you may even remember me when I was little runnin around down there! :) )