JOHN DAY - There are now two paramedics under one roof at the Hilton-Kohfield household.
Kara Kohfield of John Day recently joined the ranks of Oregon certified and nationally registered paramedics.
She joins her husband TR Hilton as a paramedic for Blue Mountain Hospital, serving the Grant County area.
She's volunteered as an emergency medical technician (EMT) since 1996 and became an intermediate EMT in 1998. She's also worked at John Day Police dispatch since 2000 and is now a reserve dispatch worker.
Hilton has worked as a paramedic at BMH since 1990.
When the couple isn't on the run with sirens blaring, they enjoy four-wheeling, hiking and spending time with family, including Hilton's 15-year-old daughter Maddie. They also work daily with their pet bobcat Nala.
Now that Kohfield is a paramedic, she'll work with her husband teaching health-care provider CPR, pediatric advanced life support and advanced cardiac life support for hospital staff, and the Basic EMT class.
Grant County is in need of EMTs, especially in Long Creek and Dayville, Hilton said.
"We need them in a big way," he added.
Not everyone has the nerves required to be an EMT, but when it comes to average citizens responding to their own emergencies, Kohfield and Hilton wish more people knew CPR and first aid.
"The biggest thing is being calm, and giving (emergency responders) plenty of information about the situation," said Kohfield.
She said that as an EMT and now as paramedic, she enjoys the one-on-one contact she has with patients, stabilizing and comforting them.
"You get to treat them, take them to the hospital, and see them in the store the next day," she said.
For Hilton it's the adrenaline rush from an uncertain event that makes his job exciting, and the rewards, he says, come from assisting others.
About 95 percent of emergencies are not life threatening, he said. But for the 5 percent that are, sometimes the difference between life and death is a simple intervention, be it a medication, breathing assistance or reversing a drug overdose, he said.
"Almost every EMT you find gets satisfaction out of helping someone," he said.
The EMTs who don't last as long in the job are those who want to be a hero, he noted.
Kohfield explained that on occasion they are faced with patients who punch, kick, slap and spit.
It's part of the job.
Kohfield had plenty of stressful moments as she put in 553 hours in two months training last year with the McMinnville Fire Department and at several Portland hospitals and BMH.
"It was a crazy time," she said.
Through it all her husband was there to answer her questions and back up her thoughts and concerns, she added.
On the MFD emergency calls she had 130 advanced patient contacts, and she worked with over 100 patients during her clinical work which included 20 intubations, time in the operating and emergency rooms, burn unit, intensive care units and obstetric surgery, where she delivered two babies.
"Like resident doctors, there's no skating by any of it," Hilton said.
To achieve paramedic status, Kohfield also had to complete an Associate's of Applied Science degree and a one-year paramedic course.
The BMH grant committee paid for her paramedic program, about $9,000.
Grant County is, no doubt, in better shape with two paramedics on hand now.
It also means that Hilton will get more time off, paring down his 28-day-a-month schedule.
And, more revenue will be generated for the hospital with an extra paramedic available for ground transports.
One possible downside: if one spouse covers days and the other covers nights, they may see each other less often.
Kohfield's greatest challenge now, she says, is taking on 100 percent of the responsibility of the ambulance call and the decisions made with treatments.
"It takes confidence," Hilton added. "You're not allowed to make a mistake," he said, even under stressful circumstances.