After living in The Valley since shortly after the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I got to experience the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service (MRVAS) and its volunteers from the gurney for the first time earlier this month.



I won’t name names as to the MRVAS volunteers who transported me because MRVAS frowns on that, but I will say that one of them was a beloved and dear friend, another was a colleague with whom I work very closely, and I did not know the third.

Taking an unexpected ambulance ride to the emergency room is very different from taking yourself to the emergency room because by definition you need to get there and be seen stat. That adds an element of uncertainty and fear having to do with being sick/injured enough and not really knowing what to expect.

My friend held my hand the whole way and talked to me about the process and my colleague, who drove, did his best to avoid jostling and bumps.

Going to the ER is scary as is getting wheeled in past the intake desks (via doors you never see if you take yourself there). The crew who navigated the process, got me in a room and didn’t leave until some time had passed and I’d been turned over to an ER nurse and an ER doctor.

It made a huge difference to have it be people I knew who were with me during such an unnerving experience. Living in a small town means we are often going to know firefighters, EMS workers, select board members and planning commissioners, town officials, business owners, friends, co-workers, neighbors who we encounter in hundreds and hundreds of situations year after year.

Some might argue that it’s too much or too personal to have friends and colleagues and neighbors help you out when you need help. For some people it might be. For me, it was comforting and reassuring because they helped me navigate a system and circumstances that were scary and unsettling.

People say this over and over and write letters to this newspaper, praising our volunteer MRVAS and EMS personnel and I get it now.