By GAIL MAHOLICK

gmaholick@tnonline.com [1]

When Paul Goodhile's heart stopped 21 years ago, he was at the right place and time for a jump-start.

Lehighton ALS had just formed and Paul was the first "official save" the organization claimed. His extra 21 years can be directly attributed to the EMT's prompt emergency medical care right when he needed it.

I was the reporter who wrote the story about Paul getting a second chance at life. It was one of the first major feature stories I ever wrote.

I'll never forget riding along with the ALS crew and seeing first hand just what ALS does in a day. The day went by rapidly as they had a few calls. I'll never forget getting to one emergency scene and watching as a family member was giving CPR to a loved one in a garage before the EMTs took over. Sadly that man lost his life that night, but Paul lived. After he recuperated a bit, I wrote about Paul, which is when I got to know him.

Sadly Paul passed away last week. While his family was sad, they knew too that his pain and suffering is over.

Some people have compared Paul to having nine lives like a cat or to the Energizer Bunny, who just wouldn't quit. He just kept coming out of his medical nosedives over and over and over again.

Throughout the past 21 years Paul made good use of his "extra" time.

Paul enjoyed spending time with his family and was a faithful member of the Franklin Township Lions Club, where Paul loved to play Santa Claus. His wife, Hazel often said that Paul loved playing Santa Claus for the club's annual Festival of Lights event. She said that playing Santa Claus kept Paul going. He also loved to show off his Buick at car shows, where Paul and Hazel would spend a whole day with friends.

Having an ALS response team in our area was good for Paul and has always been a bonus for all of us.

The ALS service has saved many lives and has helped many people get emergency medical care in a swift time frame, cutting down on recuperation time and long term rehabilitation.

Over the years, I have met up with many of the EMTs at accident and fire scenes and their professionalism is tops. We are lucky to be able to count on them to be here for us.

The down side is that the service is expensive to maintain for a community, but everyone can do their part by sending in a donation, especially now during their annual fund drive. Your cards should have arrived in the last week or so. So take the time to write a check and drop it in the mail. I know that I have.

You never know when an emergency may happen. Most accidents happen in the home and with a majority of the population getting to the point where a fall would be devastating, it would be a wise thing to send in your donation.

Don't think of the donation as an expense. Think of it as an investment in your community and then if you need the service in the next year, it will actually save you money because it will cover the cost of transportation to a trauma unit in the event of an emergency.