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This week in history - from The Arlington Times archives
10 years ago 1998
The phone rings inside Airlift Northwests Arlington base and pilot Ben Springer lifts the receiver to his ear. After a brief exchange he announces, Its a go. Registered nurses Tia Barrett and Pete Limbacher immediately hoist their flight bags and follow Springer onto the airstrip at the Arlington Airport where a twin-engine Agusta A109 helicopter waits. Springer fires up the engine and the nurses take their seats in back. The blades rotate with increasing velocity, fanning a wave that ripples across the grass surrounding the tarmac. They lift off and, rising, turn south toward Bainbridge Island, where an elderly woman awaits transport to Harborview Medical Center. Five minutes have passed since the phone rang and the chopper is a speck on the horizon. In the air ambulance transfer business, time is critical. Funded by four Seattle hospitals, Airlift Northwest operates bases in Alaska, Montana, Idaho and throughout western Washington. The Arlington base was established to increase response time in the rapidly growing population of north county and the surrounding region. We can get them where they need to go faster, Barrett said hours later, after returning to the base. Transferring the Bainbridge Island patient by ambulance would have taken two hours, she explained. the helicopter was able to hop across Puget Sound in four minutes. As is usually the case, all went well, but the crew members say there are never any guarantees because each run carries a degree of suspense and danger. Arriving by power and lift, the crew must interact with medical personnel tending patients in diverse conditions and settings. They may assist paramedics at the scene of a car crash, forest service workers caring for frostbitten climbers or medical crews at a hospital or clinic. An ER parking lot, a field, a hillside or a highway might be a designated landing zone. A patients age may range from 100 years to just a few hours. It doesnt get any better than this, says the crew. Relaxing in the comfortable common area at the base, they talk about their unusual line of work, agreeing it is the challenge and diversity that attract them to the job. We get to see a little bit of everything, said Barrett, who worked at the Harborview ER before joining Airlift NW. Limbacher was first introduced to the service while on duty in the pediatric intensive care unit at Childrens Hospital. I saw the blue suits coming through (referring to the one-piece standard issue flight garb) and thought Id like to try that. Its a decision, he said, he has never regretted and he has had the same enthusiasm and excitement with every lift-off since joining the service in 1993. The jobs a hoot. Its a lot of fun. Springer has been piloting most of his adult life, in a number of jobs. Hes moved cargo, flown for a news agency, even soared over the wilds of Africa as a bush pilot. Exciting stuff, but he says the job with Airlift Northwest lacks nothing by comparison. Just when you start to relax, you get something really juicy and (the excitement) starts all over again. Limbacher agrees, recalling a midnight flight into the Cascades to rescue a man who had fallen into a campfire. Forest service EMTs directed the pilot from the ground, as he negotiated tension lines in the inky darkness. It was a good, challenging flight, Limbacher remembers. As obvious as the element of danger that exists, is the deep sense of trust between the nurses and the pilots, said Barrett, who can recall only one instance in her 12-year career in which she felt unsteady. We landed in a valley, at a dark landing zone, with hills around us. When we lifted off, the pilot became disoriented, dizzy. I looked out the window. We were going backwards really fast. The pilot was suffering from spatial disorientation, a phenomenon which can occur in a dark area without visual clues to orient the pilot sense of direction, explained Springer. The pilot was able to touch down safely. His calm demeanor and ability in the emergency left a lasting impression on Barrett and defined her own role. It made me respect the uniqueness of our jobs and how it differs from a traditional nursing job, inside, where youre safe and warm.
25 years ago 1983
Arlington Hardware and Lumber, one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the community, has changed hands. Jack and JoAnn Gray are retiring, ending almost 80 years of continuous ownership of that firm by the Gray family. Mike and Marty Jones, who recently moved to Arlington from California, are the new owners. Mike Jones is best known in the community as the owner and manager for five years of the Sears Catalog Store, a position he held until he sold the business some two-and-a-half years ago and moved to Sebastopol, Calif. In California, Jones was a partner and manager of a hardware store. Jones sold the familys share in that business to his brother to return here. The Joneses are now at home in their original Arlington Heights house. Our time in California was a great experience, said Jones, but when the opportunity to return to Arlington came, my family jumped at the chance. Jones said he plans no major changes at Arlington Hardware. I like the store as it is, he said. I am particularly grateful that the current employees have agreed to stay on, Jones said. Among those employees are Randy and Tim Gray, sons of Jack. Their remaining with the firm will in a sense, maintain the Gray familys almost unbroken 80-year association with the store. Two other employees staying on are Harold Smith and Dale Lashbrook. Pat Diven was recently hired. Arlington Hardware and Lumber was founded in 1890 by Thomas Moran. In 1903 John Alfred Gray purchased the business and passed it on to his son, J. Richard Gray. The company passed briefly out of the Gray familys hands in 1928 when it was sold to Jack Healy. About 1931 the Grays bought the business back and it stayed in family hands until 1982. Jack Gray began working at his fathers store in 1938, he recalled. His sister, JoAnn, followed him into the business when she completed high school.
50 years ago 1958
Bryant Fire District No. 18 held a meeting of prospective firemen at Bryant Grange Hall recently. Chief Warren Perrigo of the Arlington Fire Dept. was present to tell the Bryant firemen the necessity and benefits of forming a Firemens Association. Those present decided to form the Association. Officers elected were president, Perry Robbins and secretary, Robert Williams. Chief Perrigo urged them to apply for membership in the Washington State Firemens Association. This membership will be applied for. The Fire Commissioners appointed Norman Smith as Fire Chief of the district. Bryant Grange has granted permission for the Commissioners and Fire Dept. to use their hall for their meetings until they have a fire hall. Present at the meeting were Firemen Perry Robbins, Will McFarland, Dewey Wright, Norman Smith, Albert Hafterson, R.U. Brown, Jim Wood, John Traulsen, Herb Delano, and Carl Carlson. Also present were fire Commissioners Lewis Wright, George Espe and Bernard Peterson; and chief Perrigo from the Arlington Fire Department.