First responder fundraiser planned in wake of St. Regis hostage incident
A suspect in an Idaho armed robbery was killed by law enforcement after shooting a hostage near a travel center in St. Regis. (Amy L. Quinlivan/Mineral Independent)
Two weeks have passed since a hostage situation and shooting shook the small town of St. Regis, leaving local citizens and Travel Center employees, the Sheriff's Office, and area first responders to cope with the fallout.
The community has since rallied around the local police force and EMS workers. Now, two Mineral County residents who were on the frontline themselves that terrifying day have an inspiring goal to protect our local heroes in the future.
Angela Visintin is a Registered Nurse and the trauma coordinator for Mineral Community Hospital.On March 18, after shots were fired outside the Gift Shop in St. Regis, Visintin recalled, "I just started praying, praying for our first responders, praying for our provider and nurse on duty."
"I was actually at my home working on trauma charts and my phone went off. I receive all ambulance pages. I listened to it and to be honest it gave me a sense of adrenaline. I thought in my head, OK here it is, this is what we train for. This scenario right here is why we have worked so hard over the last two years on education and practicing certain trauma skills," Visintin affirmed.
She expressed, "But then professionalism aside, I thought wow I know most everyone that is there that's responding to this. What if one of our own gets hurt? It's very sobering."
Visintin stated, "Hearing that page that was requesting EMS to come into the scene to grab this patient really hit me. These people run towards the danger and they are doing it without protection."
That was the inspiration for the upcoming First Responder BBQ Fundraiser in Superior on April 22.
"That next morning Scott Dodd messaged me and we just bounced thoughts off each other on how to move forward. There are a lot of things in the works, this fundraiser is just one of them. I'd say this incident lit a bit of a fire in me to take action," exclaimed Visintin.
Scott Dodd, chief of the Superior Volunteer Fire Department was actively involved at the crime scene for much of the day on March 18. That next morning, he and Visintin started brainstorming.
He said, "We have been talking the last year about doing a multi-agency training covering a very similar type of scenario. With limited resources in our community and first responders working closely together from all of our agencies, it only makes sense to be as prepared as we can be."
Dodd's philosophy has always been to prepare for the worst, hope for the best and settle for anything in between. He recognizes that with increasing traffic on I-90 and growth in the community as well as continued issues with narcotics, there's potential for more situations like that to occur.
Dodd expressed "So, we have to prepare. We need to be ready to respond to any situation the best we can. I would never feel comfortable sending firefighters or medical personal into a hot zone without the proper gear and training. Minutes and even seconds can sometimes be life or death in our jobs. And becoming a victim will only complicate or hinder the situation."
This was the first time the chief has ever experienced an active shooter, or a hostage situation.
He shared, "Not something we are accustomed to in Mineral County for sure. There have been other shooter situations but they are usually in residential scenarios. Adding the public and hostage makes it a much more dynamic event. Much higher potential for catastrophic outcome."
And that's precisely what this fundraising effort and purchasing of vests is trying to provide.
Visintin stated, "Peace of mind for loved ones and also peace of mind for themselves. These people risk their own safety quit frequently. You just never know what patients are going to do sometimes, I want them to have a little peace of mind knowing they have the vest on at least.
Each protective vest is roughly $500, and they are looking to purchase grade three vests that are stab proof as well.
Visintin added, "The stab proof portion is also another thing that's important to discuss. Our EMS crew ride in the back of the ambulance with patients that are sometimes very unstable. That responder back there is at a big risk of being injured by a patient."
Spread throughout Mineral County there are various first responder teams in each town.
Visintin said, "Given the cost, we would like to purchase at least four from this fundraiser. We would like one for superior EMS, one for superior fire/QRU, one for St. Regis units and one for West End units. The crews will have to determine how best to share it. I’m guessing the vest will be left in the rigs for people who's on duty to use. But it's definitely important to have them distributed farther than just Superior."
Mineral Community Hospital will be teaming up with the Superior Volunteer Fire Department to put on the First Responder BBQ Fundraiser the fourth weekend in April. Saturday the 22, burgers and hotdogs with a side can be purchased for five bucks. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. community members can enjoy lunch, play lawn games, plus much more.
Visintin explained, "Plans initially started with a cook out. Since my Facebook post, it has grown to having the community offering to donate their time and skill doing children's face painting, we have a few ladies that are donating baked goods to sell and we may be taking donations of items to auction off. All of these fun extras have been from community involvement. We just need people to show up and buy some food and goodies and bring their friends."
A GoFundMe account has also been established for people who would like to give that way towards the goal of purchasing the bullet proof vests. For more information about the event, questions can be sent to Angela Visintin via Facebook.