Valentine man seeks to bolster town’s emergency health care options with “rescue squad”
The West Texas town doesn’t have much in the way of emergency medical care options, but one local is organizing an effort to train volunteers in basic first responder skills.
By Travis Bubenik
It’s perhaps not surprising that emergency medical care can be hard to come by in the tiny town of Valentine.
After all, the closest ambulance is stationed more than a half-hour away in Marfa, while the nearest hospital is almost 45 minutes away in Van Horn.
But one Valentine resident is arguing that it doesn’t have to be that way, and he’s launched an effort to provide basic first responder medical training to volunteers in the town and across the region through what he’s calling a “rescue squad.”
Marfa Public Radio recently sat down with Kyle LaFerriere, the man behind the effort, about what he’s envisioning.
Those interested in volunteering for the Valentine “rescue squad” can contact LaFerriere at GratefulFarmer@me.com or 432-207-2340. The effort’s first “stop the bleed course” will be held at the Valentine Community Club on Sept. 28 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. More information can be found here.
On the motivation for the effort
LaFerriere, who is not from West Texas originally but has been living in the region for a few years, said he was motivated in part to launch the rescue squad effort by his family’s history of political participation and community service, and by the lack of basic emergency care in Valentine.
“My dad, who has a pacemaker and dementia, he can’t even come to visit me really, because the resources are just too far away,” LaFerriere said. “My neighbor is a vet, and he’s in a wheelchair and on full-time oxygen, and when he needs resources they’re far away too.”
LaFerriere said those particular personal experiences and seeing what he called a few “close calls” related to medical care in Valentine pushed him to launch the rescue squad effort.
“And also running into a couple of rattlers,” he laughed.
On his conversations with local emergency officials
LaFerriere said he’s met with various Jeff Davis County officials and that they have expressed support for the endeavor and even offered to train volunteers involved in the effort.
“If we get a couple of EMS people trained in Valentine, then they’ll give us an old ambulance of theirs when they get a new one,” he said.
LaFerriere told Marfa Public Radio that the group’s first “stop the bleed” basic training course will be held at the end of September.
LaFerriere said anyone interested in getting involved in the effort doesn’t have to have a background in health care or emergency response.
“You can have zero experience and just a wanting to help or to learn,” he said.