I've been sharing my experiences in EMS class with readers recently, and one thing I mentioned a few columns ago is how, for me at least, emergency response always seems to come back to the idea of community. No one exemplified that idea more than Chuck Bertsche, a longtime member of the Westport Emergency Squad and our highest-ranking EMT, whose passing last week came as a terrible blow not only to his family and friends, but also to the squad and to our community as a whole.
In his eloquent service for Chuck at the Federated Church, Pastor Leon Hebrink said his grief was sharpened by the fact he was just getting to know Chuck better-after a casual acquaintanceship, they had only recently broke the ice and now a deeper friendship was emerging. He was looking forward to the next conversation.
As a new member of the squad, I began going on ambulance runs about a year ago. I hadn't met Chuck before, but I noticed immediately that when he arrived on a scene, more experienced squad members whose judgment I respected always deferred to him. Only gradually, as I went on more runs and squad meetings, did I begin to realize how important Chuck was in the smooth functioning of the Emergency Squad.
I remember one run with Chuck this past summer. We were returning from the hospital in the back of the ambulance together and realized that we had a common interest in books and ideas. It was our first real conversation and it was all too brief. Like Pastor Leon, I was looking forward to the next one.
In his work as a teacher at WCS, and as an advanced EMT for our squad and for CVPH, Chuck touched (and saved) many lives. Chuck's widow, Judy, has generously offered to donate his collection of EMS-related books to the Emergency Squad, to create a sort of lending library for EMS students and others. Chuck's legacy of teaching and helping others will live on. If you'd like to be part of that legacy, perhaps you'd consider a donation in Chuck's memory to the Westport Emergency Squad. Or even joining. Heaven knows, we need you now more than ever.