Tonawanda News

Breaking News


December 28, 2011

Someone's gotta do it

— — All across the country today, people are ripping open presents, sitting down to turkey dinners or maybe simply enjoying a relaxing day off while everyone else celebrates Christmas. Many people are also getting sick, injured or finding themselves involved in dangerous disputes.

“Emergencies don’t take a holiday,” said Tom Scime, operations manager for the Town of Tonawanda paramedics.

Scime, who’s been at the job for 30 years, says that while there may be some leniency allowing paramedics to make a stop at home if they’re nearby, shifts still need to be covered and people still need medical attention and rides to the hospital.

In just the Town of Tonawanda and Kenmore last Christmas, dispatch received on average one call every 45 minutes for paramedic attention alone. Throw in police calls and they peaked at about 150 calls for the entire day. Scime says that’s actually a bit above average — most days paramedics get about 26 calls.

For emergency workers, Scime said, the joys can be high on Christmas day, but the tragedies can be even lower than normal.

“Tragedy abounds all the time, but magnifies during the Christmas season ... they weigh heavy on your heart,” Scime said. “I think emotionally you’re disconnected from home and you tend to have a higher stress day because of some sort of tragic event that takes place,” he added.

City of Tonawanda Police Officer Dave Ljiljanich echoed Scime’s sentiment, saying emotions tend to run a little high on the holidays as people interact with families.

“It’s bothersome to see that on these holidays ... that’s supposed to be for family gatherings,” he said. “There are family disputes and family problems when they should be enjoying each other and they’re not.”

Still, Ljiljanich said, many officers on duty, like himself, are allowed to be at home on holidays, leaving only when they get a call. Because city cops are required to live within the municipality, they’re never too far away.

In the end, Scime and Ljiljanich said they’re not too bothered by working on the holidays — it’s just something that comes with the job. And luckily, the kids and families understand their responsibilities as well.

“They’re very good about it because they know that if dad’s got a call, dad will go but he will come back,” said Ljiljanich, who has three children ages 7, 6 and 5.

”They’ll hold off opening gifts but if it takes too long they’ll do what they’ve got to do,” he added with a laugh.

Scime, whose children are now grown, says it was more difficult when they were younger because he was “low man on the totem pole,” and had to work many holidays. But for the most part, the paramedics look out for the own, coming in an hour early here and there to help each other get home to celebrate the holiday.

For hospital workers, there may not be as much leeway to take calls from home, but Mary Jane Lodico, registered nurse at Kenmore Mercy Hospital said enjoying the holidays at work is a little like spending time with family anyway.

“We’re there so often, it’s like a family,” she said, adding she and her co-workers bring in snacks and refreshments to help keep the day festive.

Dr. Michael Gough, pulminologist and intensivist at Kenmore Mercy, said it’s all about comraderie.

“Working the holidays is always unique because I work in the intensive care unit and I work very closely with a large team of nurses, pharmacists and others,” he said. “It’s a multidisciplinary team ... we all work closely together every day.

“You do little things to try to maintain the spirit of the holiday season,” he added.

Lodico and Gough said there’s an effort in the hospital to extend that holiday spirit to the patients as well — the ill and injured are often in even greater need of that special attention during Christmas.

“You have patients there who have life-threatening illnesses. The stress and strain of that at any time is tremendous but when you factor in the holidays and it’s supposed to be joyous and happy and you have a loved one on life support who’s struggling through a very serious illness, it does put a larger strain on family members,” Gough said.

Lodico said the nurses in her unit often try to look out for patients who’ve been with them for a while and they know will remain throughout the holidays.

“Administration hands out cards from the hospital to the patient. A lot of times we have elderly people here so we sometimes adopt them and pitch in and get them a robe or slippers or something for the room ... or we buy toys,” Lodico said. “We know who’s still going to be around on Christmas and we make sure their day is just as special as ours is when we get home.”

But like law enforcement and paramedics, Lodico and Gough said they’re not really all that bothered by working through Christmas, because it’s needed. Lodico said she feels strongly about helping people all through the year, holiday or not, it makes no difference.

Gough says it’s all about stepping up.

“It’s part of the choice you make when you take this job,” he said. “Critically ill patients don’t just take the day off.”

And if all else fails, a healthy dose of humor helps the day go by too.

“No one calls 911 and invites us to the party,” Scime laughed. “And if they do, you wonder what’s going on.”

Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.

Text Only
  • BOOK NOOK: Books lists spooky side of Western New York Ask anyone in Western New York -- or anywhere at all, really -- about ghost stories, and I'll bet they have one for you.

    October 22, 2012

  • Solving a murder in a convent

    May 29, 2012

  • adamczyk, ed Stories from the neighborhood, and the concentration camp

    The person with a haunted past is a familiar and reliable trope in literature and film, and perhaps all of us have something about which to be haunted. A book by Lewiston resident Joseph Leary, “Klara,” sharply explains a story of past misdeeds in a well-written and evocative novel.

    May 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • Some tips for the fathers-to-be

    All of a sudden, I’m getting to feel like a bit of an ol’ pro at this fatherhood thing.

    May 21, 2012

  • Jill Keppeler Clueless and late to the garden party

    The more I get into this whole gardening thing, the more I realize how much I don’t know.

    It started not long after I finished my first “Clueless Gardener” column, when I walked into a store with the idea of making some gardening purchases. Seeds, I thought. Maybe some plants to transplant. But mainly, seeds. That’s kind of the point of a garden, right?

    May 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • crittercompanions2012.jpg Easy ways to enrich your pet's life and help the environment

    The day has come were my finely articulated words have been placed on the bottom of my bird cage to be soiled upon. Sure, it was funny when it was Joe Biden’s face or another writer’s work. But mine? So cruel. So proud.

    May 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • 120215 COPPER2.jpg All that glimmers

    Even during a drizzly February day, Gleam & Glimmer Stained Glass Studio is full of light.
    It shines through the stained glass pieces in the front of the Webster Street shop, glances off mosaics and jewelry and lands on the works in progress in the studio area, where students can learn to create their own multi-colored art.
    That’s exactly the way co-owner Suzanne Todaro likes it.

    March 8, 2012 1 Photo

  • Danielle Haynes mug HAYNES: Sizing up the Oscars

    The big show is tonight and for the first time in my life, I have managed to catch every single movie nominated for the best picture award.

    February 25, 2012 1 Photo

  • PopcornBar.jpg COLUMN: Make your popcorn red carpet-worthy

    Annual movie award shows are the perfect excuse for hosting a party.

    February 25, 2012 1 Photo

  • 120215 chocolate pie1.jpg HAYNES: Celebrating the Oscars with a little 'Help' in the kitchen

    February 25, 2012 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page
NDN Video
Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball