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Sunstar paramedics show off winning skills at 'Intubation Rodeo'

Health notes

Merriam-Webster defines intubation as the introduction of a tube into a hollow organ such as the trachea.

There are competitions for this. Really.

Sunstar Paramedics SWAT team members Josh Schuster, Chris Jennings and Joe Herzhauser took second, third and fourth places in a competition called the "Intubation Rodeo," which took place in late May at Nature Coast EMS in Inverness.

More than 30 emergency agencies participated in the inaugural event, which drew EMS professionals from as far away as Miami and the Florida Panhandle.

During the "rodeo," EMS professionals were required to deal with 25 emergency scenarios such as a helicopter crash, a shooting, someone trapped upside-down in a tight space, a baby stuck in a well and an icy water rescue. They were given three minutes or less to assess the situation and establish an airway in an accident-victim simulation manikin at each challenge site.

Although intubation has been de-emphasized due to breakthroughs in modern technology, it is still a crucial skill that EMS professionals must possess.

"Over the past several years, intubation has been a skill that's been lost by paramedics," said Ron Bray, Nature Coast EMS lead paramedic instructor. "With this event, those who participate regain their skills in a fun way. By doing it 25 times, they walk away with a skill set they probably didn't come in with."

Sunstar, the 911 ambulance transport service in Pinellas County, employs more than 500 local residents and responds to around 500 calls a day. The company has earned the Florida Governor's Sterling Award, recognizing "role models for organizational performance excellence."

• • •

To combat childhood obesity and help kids develop lifelong tools for physical activity, BayCare Wellness Centers has introduced a new summer fitness program, Play It Forward, a six-week physical fitness class geared to children ages 8 to 14.

During the class, children will learn about the fundamentals of movement and participate in more than 100 exercises they can perform anywhere to help improve athletic performance, prevent injuries and give them a strong foundation to develop into healthy adults.

The program will be presented every Tuesday and Thursday from July 9 through Aug. 15 at two wellness center locations in North Pinellas: 6 to 7 p.m. at the Cheek-Powell Wellness Center, Morton Plant Hospital's Cheek-Powell Heart and Vascular Pavilion, 455 Pinellas St., Clearwater; and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Palm Harbor Wellness Center, Palm Lake Shopping Center, 32672 U.S. 19 N., Palm Harbor.

The cost is $35 for children of Wellness Center members and $45 for non-members. A T-shirt is included. Registration and prepayment are required.

Call (727) 953-9877.

• • •

In 2005, Les Ambush, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance facilitator and certified peer specialist, together with his wife, Sandi, developed a set of tools for coping with life's problems called "Opening my Toolbox of Recovery using i-n-g Words."

Since then, the couple's organization, Feeling Better About Ourselves, has presented seminars, workshops, classes and ongoing support groups. Those attending learn to deal with the stresses of depression and bipolar illness, alcohol and drug addiction, eating disorders, gambling and overspending, relationship issues, codependency, grief and loss, self-destructive behavior, physical illness and the associated feelings and emotions of shame, fear, guilt and anger. They use tools they'd forgotten they had or didn't realize they possessed.

Ambush, who has suffered personally with addiction and was once hospitalized for major depression, created the program because he felt traditional remedies were only treating symptoms of the real issues.

"After being released from the hospital after a major depression, I came out with pills like everyone else," he admitted. "We live in a tough world. I wanted to get to the root of the problem."

The workshops address medications, but only to enhance awareness and to offer suggestions of proactivity.

The program focuses on coping skills to keep life's daily challenges from becoming too overwhelming, with an emphasis on self-worth, positive thinking and spirituality.

"There's a difference between spirituality and religion. We're not a religious program," clarified Ambush. "We preach a sense of goodness and kindness and work on a spiritual concept of morality in building character. Everyone's welcome."

They will present a workshop with a special segment on processing shame and fear on July 20 from 10 a.m .to 2 p.m. at Suncoast Hospice, Room 100, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd. in Largo.

A donation of $5 includes materials and snacks.

Reservations are required. Call (727) 822-3480; email or; and visit

• • •

During a disaster, would you know how to help yourself and provide assistance to others?

The East Lake Community Emergency Response Team will present a three-day basic CERT training course for individuals age 14 and older from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at East Lake Tarpon Fire Station 57, 3375 Tarpon Lake Blvd., East Lake.

Topics covered include basic skills that are important to know in a disaster when emergency services are not available as well as fire safety, disaster medical operations and search and rescue. There will be a course review, final exam and a hands-on disaster simulation.

The classes are free.

To register, call (727) 781-5855. Visit

• • •

The Clearwater Threshers and Morton Plant Mease will come together for the eighth annual Pitch For Pink event to strike out breast cancer Friday at Bright House Field, 601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater.

Since its start in 2006, the annual event has raised nearly $180,000 to help support breast cancer programs at Morton Plant Mease.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the first 1,000 women through will receive a Pitch For Pink tote bag.

At 6 p.m., breast cancer survivors will take a lap around the bases, cheered on by the Clearwater Threshers and Port Charlotte Stone Crabs, as well as their fans. The baseball game begins at 6:30.

Other activities include a post-game concert featuring 1980s stars Tone Loc and Rob Base, a silent auction (including autographed pink jerseys worn by the players and pink bats) and a car giveaway from Dimmitt Chevrolet.

Pitch For Pink tickets are $5, $7 and $9.50 and available by calling (727) 467-4457 or at

Mail health news to Tampa Bay Times, 1130 Cleveland St., Suite 100 A, Clearwater, FL 33755; fax to (727) 441-4119; or email

Sunstar paramedics show off winning skills at 'Intubation Rodeo' 07/06/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 4, 2013 5:42pm]
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