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UNH professor comes to rescue for Lakes Region EMTs

by Jim Graham

The University of New Hampshire

 DURHAM — When some of New Hampshire's most experienced emergency medical technicians (EMTs) first learned about a tough new national exam they are required to pass, more than a few worried that the strong, steady pulse that had defined their careers was about to flat-line.

"There were a lot of guys who were very stressed out about the test," says Shawn Riley, deputy fire chief for Laconia and LRGHealthcare, which serves the Lakes Region, "because they realized if they didn't pass, it meant a lot of them could lose their jobs."

As emergency responders across the Lakes Region sought help, Riley called his "911" source for emergency care training: Mary Katherine Lockwood, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences at the University of New Hampshire.

In addition to teaching at UNH, Lockwood is a highly regarded EMT instructor who has served on emergency medical and ambulance crews for 25 years. After talking with Riley, she created a special one-day seminar last summer covering the toughest parts of the new exam, and delivered it — free of charge — to 55 EMTs from 18 communities in the Lakes Region.

The grade she received: 100 percent of the EMTs who took it rated Lockwood a "5" on a scale of 1-to-5 for outstanding instruction.

"She has a way of taking really complex material and making it simple and easy to understand, and even fun," Riley says. Even better, he adds, the students in Lockwood's seminar achieved a high success rate in passing the exam on the first try.

What makes the 135-question test particularly challenging is new material on advanced anatomy and physiology, and biochemistry; taking a step beyond the practical, hands-on clinical knowledge of patient care that defined EMT training years ago. But while Lockwood earned a doctoral degree in nutrition and biological chemistry from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), many of the EMTs she teaches do not have college degrees.

"A lot of these guys sort of hit a brick wall when it came to science in high school," says Lockwood, who continues to serve as a volunteer EMT in her hometown of Amherst. "So what I try to do is to make this material interesting enough, and fun enough, that they can see they really can do it. And once they see that, once they break down that brick wall, they find out that the science isn't nearly as hard as they thought."

For Lockwood, the Lakes Region seminar is added confirmation that she was wise to take her first EMT course and volunteer on an ambulance more than 25 years ago — a step she took when she was teaching at UCLA so that she could better understand the needs of her students preparing for careers in nursing, occupational and physical therapy, nutrition and medicine.

Lockwood conducted a similar seminar in Epping, for 33 emergency medical system instructors on strategies for teaching anatomy and physiology to EMT students. "By teaching instructors, Katherine exponentially expands the number of students that she touches indirectly," says Shawn Jackson, education coordinator for the state Division of Fire Standards and Training and Emergency Medical Services.

Riley expressed his gratitude for her work in Laconia in a recent letter to Jon Wraith, dean of the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. "I cannot thank her or UNH enough," Riley wrote.

Returning to the fire station after a recent ambulance call, several Lakes Region EMTs who took Lockwood's seminar say it also gave them added confidence and inspired them in pursuing additional self-study preparations ahead of the exam. "For her to come up here and cover all that material the way she did, it was great. It really made a difference," says Duane Mann, a firefighter/paramedic in Laconia.

(This article was originally published in UNH Today. Jim Graham is manager of Leadership Communications at the University of New Hampshire.)

 

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 December 2013 02:08

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Ashland tax commitment drops 1.5%

ASHLAND — The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration has set the 2013 property tax rate at $25.12 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, $3.14, or 14.3 percent, more than the 2012 rate.

The amount to be raised by property taxes decreased by $89,158, or 1.5 percent, from $5765,615 to $5676,457, while the assessed valuation shrank by $36,647,116, or 13.8-percent, from $264,315,381 to $227,668,265.

The town tax rose from $8.60 to $9.15, the local school tax from $9.68 to $11.78, the state education tax from $2.27 to $2.52 and the county tax from $1.43 to $1.67.

Town administrator Paul Branscombe said that the increased property tax rate reflected the adjustment of property values to more closely match market prices, which significantly reduced the assessed valuation of the town. He pointed out that there was no significant increase in municipal expenditures.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 December 2013 01:58

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$1.4 million for road work tops Laconia CIP list for 2014-2015; fire station #9

LACONIA — The Planning Board this week endorsed the recommendations of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee for capital outlays in the 2014-2015 municipal budget, which will be referred to City Manager Scott Myers for his consideration.

Each year the CIP Committee reviews the requests for capital expenditures presented by each of the city departments then, after scoring each request, ranks the proposed projects in order of priority. The recommendations provide guidance to the city manager in preparing the budget presented to the City Council in March.

Although ranked ninth by the CIP Committee, the City Council has indicated that the renovation and expansion of the Central Fire Station will be among its top priorities in the coming year. The project is estimated to cost $4.1-million, which would be funded by the sale of general obligation bonds. City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday that the debt service on the borrowing could be financed while keeping total principal and interest payments within the annual limit of $3.2 million set to comply with the tax cap.

A traffic signal at the junction of Court Street and Fair Street, where the construction of the Advanced Auto Parts store created an opportunity to reconfigure a dangerous intersection, at a cost of $25,000 ranked 12th among the committee's priorities.

Again this year, street repairs was the highest priority for the CIP Committee, for which it recommended appropriating $1.4 million, $100,000 more than was budgeted this year. The committee recommended increasing funds for drainage improvements throughout the city by $20,000, to $100,000 next year. Four water projects, including upgrading hydrants, costing $285,000 were among the committee's top ten priorities along with $50,000 for upgrading sewer mains.

The list includes $50,000 for sidewalk repair and construction and an equal amount for replacing fencing and guardrails. The committee recommends spending $170,000 to replace vehicles at the Department of Public Works and $70,000 for two cruisers for the Police Department.

In 2013-2014, $1,874,436 was appropriated for capital outlays and another $850,000 was borrowed to construct the Weirs Community Park and replace the Smith Track at Opechee Park.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 December 2013 01:48

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Mark Sisti to defend Amy Lafond

LACONIA — Amy Lafond, the woman who struck two teenage girls on Messer Street on April 19, killing Lilyanna Johnson and severely injuring Allyssa Miner, while driving her Jeep Cherokee, has retained Mark Sisti, a prominent criminal attorney from Gilmanton, to defend her against charges of manslaughter, negligent homicide, assault and wrongful possession of a prescription medication.

Sisti will replace John Bresaw and Justin Littlefield of the New Hampshire Public Defenders Office. Justice James D. O'Neill, III postponed a disposition hearing scheduled for December 13, at which the case would be put on track to either enter a plea bargain or go to trial. Currently the case is scheduled for trial early next year, with a final pre-trial conference on January 13 and selection of a jury on February 3.

Lafond pled not guilty to the charges when she was arraigned on September 25 and was subsequently indicted by a Belknap County Grand Jury on October 3. Since her arraignment she has been held in lieu of bail of $50,000 cash or $100,000 corporate surety.

In charging manslaughter, a class A felony, the state alleges that LaFond recklessly caused the death of Lilyanna Johnson by driving while distracted at an excessive speed after consuming drugs. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison. Alternatively, she was indicted on two alternative theories of negligent homicide, both class B felonies, one for "failing to maintain a proper lookout" and the other for "failing to pay due attention while operating a motor vehicle after having consumed drugs." As class B felonies the negligent homicide charges carry maximum sentences of three-and-a-half seven years in prison.

Johnson and Miner were struck while on the sidewalk at the crosswalk at the south end of the Messer Street Bridge at approximately 2:30 p.m. Lafond was traveling northbound on Messer Street toward its intersection with Opechee Street. A car going in the same direction had stopped at the crosswalk, apparently to enable a number of middle school students standing at the corner to cross the street. Lafond is alleged to have skirted the stopped car, crossed into the southbound lane of Messer Street and mounted the raised sidewalk, hitting the two girls.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 December 2013 01:43

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