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Patient thanks Levy EMS crew

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By Lou Elliott Jones

It's not often the folks who work for Levy County Emergency Medical Service get to see their clients again.

But for a crew that was working on July 21, they not only got to see their patient, they were thanked for their "quick response and professionalism."

Roland Senecal, a lively 72-year-old, had gone out to the Jiffy store at 5:30 a.m. to pick up a newspaper and then returned home. 

"I noticed I had a pain in my arms," Senecal said. "I figured I'd better wake my wife up."

His wife, Eileen, works at Palms Medical Center in Trenton and she knew what to do. She sat him down, gave him an aspirin and called 911.

Roland Senecal said he wasn't in distress, but he was waiting on the couch when Emergency Medical Technician Barry Cannon and Paramedic Kenny Luzader arrived.

They took his blood pressure and it was 220 over 110. That 220 figure is considered severe and the 110 is just over the normal range — both bad signs.

The crew got Senecal on the stretcher and started down State Road 24 for the long ride to Gainesville and the Veterans Administration's Malcolm Randall Medical Center. Within days the military veteran had triple bypass surgery — one artery was 90 percent blocked and two others had 70-80 percent blockages.

"They just came in and started doing their thing," Senecal said. "They shot me up with nitroglycerin and got me in the ambulance and we had a nice chat on the way.

"I was impressed with their professionalism," he said. "They came in and knew what they were doing."

He said the duo's competency has a calming effect. "I knew I was in good hands," he said. 

So during the recent Cedar Key Seafood Festival, Senecal stopped by the EMS tent and praised the crew and said he would like to thank them. On Monday morning, he had coffee with both at the end of their shift. 

Cannon, who has been with Levy EMS for 16 months, said the biggest danger for their unit on the 50-mile drive is not the deer and hogs along SR24, it's the traffic once they get into the city because traffic does not get out of the ambulance's way. 

"At the time this happened we were in morning traffic in Gainesville," said Cannon, who drives the unit said. "People don't respect the ambulance any more.

"And they have to realize you cannot stop these things fast."

Luzader who has been a paramedic for 14 years and with Levy EMS for four years. 

Both say most of their calls involve falls and heart attacks. And, they say, Cedar Key does not have "frequent flyers" who use the ambulance service like a taxi to Gainesville hospitals for prescription refills or trips to the mall.

"If you get a call our of Cedar Key, nine times out of 10 it's an emergency," Cannon said. And he said the crew often has to persuade the patient to take the ride to the hospital — even if it proves expensive.

Nowadays Senecal says he is enjoying a better diet and exercising regularly. He said he is enjoying putting one foot in front of the other. "Before, if I walked a quarter mile they would go numb, so I didn't go walking. Now, my feet are no problem."

One thing he will also do without regret is strike a check for the newly increased $75 EMS fee, up from last year's $34 annual assessment.

"It's a guarantee for us that you can pick up the phone and call and we'll be there," Cannon said. "When you pick that phone up you expect somebody is coming to save you."