EMS keeps an eagle eye out for those in need at Grange Fair

jvanderk@centredaily.comAugust 23, 2013 

— Penns Valley EMS Director Warren Sasserman joked that the area EMS crews at the fairgrounds are “waiting for someone to eat too many sticky buns and get sick.”

In reality, he and Cindy Yost, of Mount Nittany Medical Center, said they rarely have to deal with Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair campers and visitors eating too much.

Yost said it’s usually the heat or the bees that bring people to the EMS area near the Gate 4 fair entrance. It’s often hot at the end of August, and the sweet, sticky fair foods tend to bring out the bees.

“None of the people on the fairgrounds hydrate enough,” Sasserman added.

In addition to those daytime needs, Sasserman has seen four heart attacks during his years at the fair. Sometimes, campers wake up at night with chest pains.

“At night, you actually have a small town here,” he said. “Not all fairs have that.”

Crews note that some long-time attendees won’t even leave the grounds for health reasons. Yost said they’ve given one elderly man breathing treatments, pointing out he could die here. She said the man was fine with that.

But one person so far has been taken from the grounds via ambulance.

Yost has worked at the fair for Mount Nittany for a half-dozen years, but has been on the fairgrounds much longer.

“I’ve only missed one since I was born,” she said, adding that’s 54 years, after teasing from another EMS crew member.

Sasserman was raised in Penns Valley and has worked with the ambulance crew for 30 years.

Years ago, he said the merry-go-round broke, and “people were slung all over the place.”

Port Matilda and Seven Mountains EMS crews also are on the grounds, as well as Centre Hall fire crews. A golf cart courtesy transport stands ready to run people from the parking lot to their tents, and other EMS crew members patrol the fairgrounds. Sasserman and Yost estimated 15 to 20 crew members are on site.

Sasserman remembered another fair when EMS crews logged 104 incidents, a high number, due to the heat. He said, “It didn’t rain for days and days.”

While security crews often assist people who lose their cars in the expansive field lots, Sasserman helped a woman from Pittsburgh last year who couldn’t find her rental car.

She knew she came in Gate 4 and thought the car was a Toyota.

“We just started up and down the rows,” Sasserman said. “She was bawling, she was crying, she was going to call her husband in Pittsburgh to come get her.”

Eventually, clicking the key fob resulted in beeps and blinking lights, and the woman’s car was found. It was, indeed, a Toyota.

Both Sasserman and Yost have family joining them at the fair this year, with children coming from Florida and New Jersey.

“I guess we keep coming back,” Sasserman said of their enjoyment of the annual event.

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