Bill Taylor: Third generation ambulance driver
BRIDPORT — Bill Taylor has been a member of Town Line First Response since 2006, after he moved to his wife Lisa’s hometown of Bridport, and is currently serving his second term as squad president. He is proud to be a third-generation ambulance driver.
Bill’s grandfather Raymond W. Taylor drove an ambulance during World War I and saw action in Europe before returning home. Bill started riding along as a “third man” to observe with his father, Donald D. Taylor, an ambulance driver in his hometown of Topeka, Kan. When Bill turned 16 and had first aid training, he landed a part-time job on the ambulance service handling mortuary calls, hospital transfers and every type of illness and injury in a city of 120,000. There is a large VA hospital in Topeka, and Bill would transfer patients in and out of state for the VA as well. He remembers an ambulance ride was about $30 back in those days, (later there was an additional charge for mileage) and patients had to pay the bill themselves, often in cash.
After high school, Bill trained as a respiratory therapist, then became an Emergency Medical Technician in 1974, the year the national registry began. He is Town Line’s “oldest” EMT, recently celebrating 45 years of emergency service. Bill became a firefighter and medic with the Topeka fire service in 1976, eventually captaining the hazardous materials service. He continued to work part-time on the ambulance service until 1982, when it became private. He still worked as a medic for the Topeka Fire Department, which handled first response calls in the area until the ambulance arrived. He retired as a captain in the fire department and head of hazmat in 2004. He re-certified as an Advanced EMT in Vermont in 2016, so that he can again administer injections and intravenous medications if needed.
One of Bill’s early memorable calls was to a fire that occurred while he was taking the EMT course in 1973. Two children, ages 2 and 4, were left alone in a home that caught fire and was soon totally engulfed. After the kids were brought out of the house apparently lifeless, Bill and a co-worker alternated using their single demand valve mask to get the children breathing. Both children survived and Bill made his life-long commitment to emergency service.
Bill has seen many changes in emergency care over the years. Protocols to control bleeding used to be to administer pressure to an ascending order of points, reinforcing dressings and bandages to stop a bleed. Now first responders go straight to a tourniquet. Rest response workers also used to have MAST trousers, inflating rubber pants to put pressure on to push blood back to the brain, to prevent shock. This has the potential side effect of increasing bleeding and has mostly been eliminated. They used to spend a lot of time learning how to immobilize injured patients on a spine board, now they use the board for extrication and then transport most people on a cot with a mattress.
In his years in emergency service Bill has seen plane, train and automobile crashes, and even mass shootings including four dead in a bar and seven fatalities in a house shooting back in Topeka. Drownings, lightning strikes, and a woman electrocuted by a faulty dishwasher are part of his experience. In this last incident, the woman went into cardiac arrest and unfortunately died because no one in the house did CPR.
One of his pet peeves is how few people know CPR and so aren’t ready to help a family member, friend or neighbor who has a sudden cardiac arrest. People don’t realize every minute is critical, Bill says, and you only have 4-6 minutes to start CPR before damage to the brain and heart is irreversible. The survival rate drops off rapidly with every minute that goes by. People don’t like to give breaths without a mask, but even simply pushing hard and fast on the chest might be enough to save a life. He reminds everyone not to be afraid of hurting the patient; if you don’t start CPR, they are dead.
Bill enjoys helping people learn and particularly enjoys training new staff. He loves his rural life in Bridport, with natural beauty everywhere in Vermont. He works as an aide at the Bridport Central School since 2007 and is also the heath aide, dealing with sick and injured children and giving medications when the nurse is not in the building. He especially enjoys teaching preschoolers, and is looking forward to the upcoming birth of his 10th grandchild.
Bill encourages anyone with an interest in helping their neighbors to take a first response course like the one currently being offered. If you’re interested or know someone who is, then contact Ron Sunderland at 388-7052 for more information.
Editor’s note: Writer Alice Grau is a volunteer EMT with Town Line First Response.
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