Annual Berkshire County EMS Expo gives view of emergency vehicles


Photo Gallery | Annual Berkshire County EMS Expo

LANESBOROUGH -- On Sunday, residents had probably their best chance to see the inside of an ambulance without having to be injured first.

The annual Berkshire County EMS Expo featured ambulances, emergency and police vehicles from all over Berkshire County.

"It's about educating people, particularly children, to get used to seeing ambulances and emergency vehicles ," said William "Bill" Hathaway, director of operations for the Southern Berkshire Volunteer Ambulance Squad, based in Great Barrington.

"A lot of people are naturally scared of ambulances. This is a good way for people to interact with them in a non-threatening way," he said.

In addition to ambulances and other emergency vehicles, there were booths dedicated to organizations like the Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue team, organizations for signing up children for identification programs, testing car seat safety and a booth for Toto, the Tornado Kitty.

Toto the Tornado Kitty isn't a super-powered cat. Toto was a little kitten found in a tree in Brimfield following the 2011 tornado that hit Massachusetts. Toto was eventually rescued by Jonathan Phall, an EMT.

Phall wrote a children's book about Toto, and donates the proceeds to various animal shelters. To date, he's raised $47,000.

Toto was at the mall on Sunday, and as one can imagine, was a huge favorite of the kids, and even some adults.

"Can I pet him?" asked one timorous 4-year-old girl.

"Sure," said Phall. "Toto is a very patient cat."

She petted him. Toto seemed OK with it.

There was at least one big dummy at the Expo. That was the dummy displayed by the SBVAS for training EMTs.

This was a pretty advanced dummy, explained Hathaway. In addition to teaching CPR, EMTs can learn how to insert IVs, put in chest tubes, even take blood pressure.

"It's a great training tool," said Hathaway.

Toto the Tornado Kitty was big, almost as big was Lima, the rescue Hovawart. Hovawarts are German dogs. The name means "an estate guard dog", which was their original use.

But now, according to Michael Williamson, a member of Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue, Lima is used mostly for searching for humans -- both alive and dead.

There are about six such dogs, in various stages of training that BMSR has on its roster, according to Team President Michael Comeau.

Obviously, Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue is considerably more than search dogs. According to Comeau, the organization provides search and rescue services, command post support, emergency services and related jobs throughout western Massachusetts.

To reach Derek Gentile:,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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