Published 7:17 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2006
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Riding an ambulance is enough excitement for most EMTs, but not for Rhonda Caples. She has always had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and now one of her dreams is coming true.
Caples has been selected as one of the EMTs who will fly on the Baptist LifefFlight helicopter to be based in Evergreen. The helicopter will mean that those who live in Conecuh, Monroe and Escambia counties will have quicker access to medical help at the nearest trauma center in Mobile, Pensacola or Montgomery.
With minutes saved by having a LifeFlight helicopter in the area, patients can be picked up and delivered much faster, giving them a better chance of survival.
Caples will be part of a three-person crew serving the tri-county area.
There will be several parmedics working the new service. Caples will be working with the advanced cardiac life support and pediatric advanced life support and most of the training she received right at D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital in Brewton.
Caples was born in Mobile, the second oldest child of four. She attended Tanner-Williams Elementary School and graduated from Baker High School in 1982.
When she graduated from high school Caples got a job at Wal-Mart where she worked for the next seven years, advancing to the Lawn and Garden Department manager.
By that time, Caples was living in Baldwin County and still working at Wal-Mart. She came up to Brewton one day to visit the Wal-Mart store here and just happened to see a D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital ambulance sitting in the parking lot.
She went back to work not expecting to hear from her application anytime soon if at all.
She was pleasantly surprised when a couple of days later she received a call from Larry Padgett offering her a job filling in for people when they were off.
She came to her new job in 1995 and after a couple of years, she went to full-time work and started her intermediate school at Jefferson Davis Community College at the same time.
Getting her intermediate classes made it possible for her to do even more work with the patients, such as giving IVs, intubations, cardiac monitoring and being able to administer some medicines.
She was lucky to be able to get her training paid for by D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital. This also helped her go to the next phase of training to become a paramedic. She attended Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia for three semesters in 2000. This made it possible for her to do even more things for the patients when the ambulance picked them up.
She was a paramedic for five years and during that time she thought about being able to fly with the Baptist LifeFlight. A requirement was having three years of experience on the ground.
Once again Caples was in the right place at the right time. She was indeed interested and made her first flight April 19.
She is able to practice the same skills in the air that she did on the ambulance, plus some additional services.
He co-workers will miss Caples but they have nothing but good things to say about her.
Sheila Odom, her co-worker agreed.
Caples lives in Perdido and loves to fish, hunt and read.