Fire volunteers were ringside at inauguration WEST COUNTY -- Clarksville * Highland * Glenelg * Lisbon

January 25, 1993

The new president took his oath, gave his inaugural speech to the nation, and there, inching its way through the thousands of people heading for the parade route was . . .

An ambulance from the West Friendship volunteer fire company?

"We saw [Vice President Al] Gore going in, and we had a better shot of [President] Clinton in his limo coming out. . . . We were only feet away from the main parade line. We were right at Constitution Avenue and 3rd Street," recalled Mark New, assistant chief of emergency medical services for West Friendship Company 3.

Mr. New, EMS Capt. Andrew Magness and Debbie Saunders, an emergency medical technician, volunteered to help the District of Columbia Fire Department cope with Inauguration Day festivities Wednesday.

Joined by a "navigator" from the D.C. Fire Department, the crew, which usually sees no more than three calls a day, dealt with more than 20 emergencies that day.

The emergencies, most dispatched by radio and others from people walking up to West Friendship's Medic 35, ranged from a woman whose ring was too tight and had to be cut off to a woman who was unconscious and unresponsive all the way to the hospital, Mr. New said.

Inauguration Day began with a 3:30 a.m. departure from West Friendship and ended when the crew returned nearly 24 hours later.

Besides having to fight with thousands of pedestrians to respond to a call immediately after the inaugural ceremony, the crew members got to squeeze themselves and their equipment through a crowd of about 6,000 attending a ball at Union Station that evening. Mr. New said six or seven partygoers were overcome by heat or other factors.

The Washington department asked all area jurisdictions to lend a hand, and West Friendship volunteered to represent Howard, said Battalion Chief Donald Howell, spokesman for the county Department of Fire and Rescue Services.

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