George and Pat Sabourin have volunteered on the Ogdensburg First Aid Squad almost as many years as they have lived in Ogdensburg – around 47 years.
They both fondly remember George’s boss finding them their home in Ogdensburg – where they still live and raised five daughters and one son. Right now they have eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
After George was transferred with BASF as Transportation Coordinator, George and Pat moved to Ogdensburg from Dearborn Heights, Michigan. George is also an Army Veteran.
When George first arrived in Ogdensburg, he tried to join the fire department, but they said he was too old. [George was in his 30s.] Within an hour after coming home, his neighbor, Helen DeAngelo, said, “You’re not too old for the First Aid Squad,” so he joined the squad.
Currently, at 83 years of age, George trains others at the Bergen EMS Training Center in Paramus, N.J. He used to teach at Sussex Community College, but his family stopped him from driving at night.
In addition to being a Qualified Instructor, George has worked as an EMT, scoring 97 percent on the EMT test, Emergency Medical Technician Intermediate (EMTI), CPR Coordinator at Newton Hospital, State EMT Evaluator, and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) teacher, along with Anne Foster.
Around 1983, George said, N.J. began requiring two paramedics for calls. Furthermore, the amount of information volunteers learn increased from an 8 ½” by 11,” 3/4” thick textbook to an 8 1/2” by 14,” almost 3” thick textbook.
Both George and Pat are delegates to the First Aid Council and no longer make ambulance calls.
Pat, who will be 83 years old in September, made Ogdensburg First Aid calls days and nights for about 35 years. She said Gail Schutte and Lorraine Horlacher used to babysit her children when she went on ambulance calls.
George said Schutte and Horlacher used to watch all the children for women on the day crew. Whenever there was an ambulance call, he added, “somehow they got the kids.” Even the Chief of Police Jim Duke picked children up at the ambulance and took them to the babysitter.
“It was great.” George said, “People worked together, and we’re losing that now. The whole country is losing it.” Now, he observed, with both people working, they cannot spend the time on training or making calls - “That’s why they cannot get any volunteers.”
Pat said when she worked at North Country Pharmacy in Ogdensburg, a car accident happened in front of the store. Owner Clint Miller looked at her and said, “Get out there.” She was gone almost two hours, and he paid her for it.
George said someone wrote on Facebook, “I wouldn’t be here today, because I didn’t wake up that morning. You saved my life.”
“We need help,” George continued, “They need help, and I can’t do it anymore. She can’t do it anymore. We need everybody else to step forward and help.”
George’s first experience with an emergency call happened in Michigan. Before he was trained, he gave mouth-to-mouth to a baby who had turned blue. He said, “It was just a neighborly thing,” and his only training was what he had watched on TV.
Pat said, “That was the start of it.”
George said the childbirth calls “are the great ones.” The Ogdensburg First Aid and Police received a state award for successfully saving a baby with a prolapsed cord. The doctor said both mother and baby were 100 percent oxygenated, and it was the first time he had ever seen a crew do everything correctly.
A prolapsed cord occurs when the umbilical cord presents first. The baby presses against the cord, and one has to push the baby back inside the mother, while holding the baby off the cord until a c-section is performed.
George has also “caught” three babies, and Pat helped deliver a baby in the new ambulance.
On a funnier note, George said a nurse once accused them of drinking. Because they did not have any gloves, he poured rubbing alcohol all over his hands to be sterile.
Pat said, “It’s been a long, great life.”
Ogdensburg Day King and Queen
On Aug. 26, George and Pat were appointed the Ogdensburg Day King and Queen, to be held Sept. 7.
George could not understand why they were chosen, and Pat wished all the wonderful people in town would be honored for what they had done over the years.
“There are some great people in this town,” she said, “and they have done so much.”
The Ogdensburg Council and Ogdensburg Day Committee will also name the road circling Borough Hall “Sabourin Way” for one year.