Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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Perki the Paramedic Penguin
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2021-08-04

            The importance of first responders to the community is undeniable.  Their training and expertise is an asset to the patients they serve.   There is a level of extra care they provide that we sometimes overlook.  Support for their communities and the people in them that can bring a smile to the worried or a sigh of relief to the undecided.  Care that might inspire others to care.

Battalion Chief Jake LaForet proudly holds Perki the Paramedic Penguin

and the namesake's activities book the he developed for the Upper

Perkiomen Valley Ambulance Association.

            These responders are often the first to supply fun items to the children and youth of their towns; coloring or activity books that not only provide a level of fun but a beginning education in safety while enjoying them.

            Often the items are purchased by the groups to distribute at community or school events.  A give-back to provide an enjoyable way to learn a bit about safety. 

            One local first responder took it a step further, and the organization he serves pushed it over the finish line.

            Jake LaForet is an Emergency Medical Technician and Battalion Chief at the Upper Perkiomen Valley Ambulance Association (UPVAA) who likes to travel.  To date, he has visited 47 countries.

            A few years ago, he came up with an idea to make that give-away activities

Perki the Paramedic Penguin had no trouble bonding with his 

cousins in Antarctica since their natural enemies, like leopord

seals and killer whales, are all in the water.

book more fun, interesting and educational.  Instead of purchasing the stock giveaways, why not design one of our own – and add a local flavor to it.

            Jake, who likes to dabble in graphic arts, put together a book where youngsters can enjoy portions by themselves, and other portions where the young and their mentors can enjoy together – a real educational bonus.

            Children can color local images from their area - ones they often see.  They can complete puzzles relating to local scenes while learning the importance of all local emergency service groups, and so much more.

            The book would eventually be titled Perki The Paramedic Penguin

            LaForet came upon a stuffed penguin toy wearing a hat.  He placed a patch with the Star of Life, the universal symbol of emergency care, on the hat and Perki the paramedic penguin became real.

            Also a photography buff, Jake took Perki with him on a trip to Antarctica in 2018 and photographed Perki among his real-life penguin cousins on the frigid and snowy continent. 

Introducing Perki to the real-life crowd wasn't a problem because Jake remarked that they "think of you as a real big penguin" since their natural enemies are in the water, not on the land. 

The plush toy is currently available for adoption, complete with a signed adoption

certificate and a copy of the educational EMS activity book.

 

            Through the photographs Perki became part of the activities book – and a hit among the young, and not-so-young folks who met him.

            The organization had 2,000 copies of the book printed up and have been handing them out to children here and in the emergency rooms at St. Luke's Upper Bucks Hospital and Grand View Hospital emergency rooms.

            But, that's not the end of the story.

            Another idea was born.

            Emergency service organizations are always looking for fund-raising ideas to support the vital services they provide.  So Jake searched for, and found, a manufacturer who could provide many Perki's that could be adopted by area folks to help raise funds for the UPVAA.

            Now, for a $20 donation you can adopt a Perki the paramedic penguin of your own, complete with a signed adoption certificate and a copy of the activity book.

            Perki will be available for adoption at the Upper Perkiomen Valley Ambulance headquarters at 2199, East Buck Road, Pennsburg on Wednesday, August 12th from 6-8 p.m. and on Saturday, August 14th, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Perki will also be available for adoption at the National Night Out event being held at St. John's Lutheran Church, 3104 Main St., Green Lane on Saturday, August 14th from 3 – 7 p.m.

            There will also be an adoption event held at The Grand Theater, 252 Main Street, East Greenville on Friday, August 20th at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. for the opening of the movie "Paw Patrol", and on Wednesday August 25th at show times of "Paws Patrol" as well.

            Supplies of Perki are limited so don't wait to adopt yours.

            The UPVAA will be using the funds raised from the Perki adoptions to pay for pediatric-specific training, supplies and equipment for all of their ambulances. The UPVAA is certified as an "Expert Level" pediatric provider by the PA Department of Health; each ambulance is equipped to handle a wide range of pediatric emergencies.

            The organization will also use funds to acquire a video laryngoscope. This cutting-edge device will help providers establish intubated airways in challenging situations, when the patient is unable to breathe or maintain their own airway naturally. Video laryngoscopes also reduce exposure risks to droplet-borne pathogens, which is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.


 

 

 

 

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