Deadlines, like the hangman’s noose, concentrate the mind. For the Rappahannock News, Tuesday and Wednesday are the deadline days for any and all stories if they are to be printed in that Thursday’s edition of the weekly newspaper.
To say that Tuesday and Wednesday are stress-filled is one way to express the mood here at the Rappahannock News office at 249 Main Street in the town of Washington. I enjoy it, this adrenaline rush. It makes me feel young again. It’s fun.
So it was Tuesday a week ago, Feb 16, when the fun turned potentially deadly. The editor, Roger, felt a sudden and excruciating pain in the back of his chest. In initial denial, he and I just assumed that it was simply a stressed-induced muscle spasm from being hunched over the computer keyboard all day. But the pain only got worse, sharper and more intense, the kind of pain that makes your knees buckle.
Could it be a heart attack? Or something equally bad? Roger and I don’t always agree, but in this instance agreement was easy. It didn’t take but a few moments more for us both to conclude that it was 911 time. With the little bit of strength he had left, Roger spoke into the phone and described his symptoms to the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher.
Within a minute or two — literally a minute or two! — the Washington Volunteer Rescue Squad were here at our office: Five of them, volunteers all. You could tell immediately that they knew what they were doing. That in itself was comforting. But more: they seemed to care, genuinely care.
Within a few minutes more, they were whisking Roger off to the emergency room at Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton. It turned out not to be a heart attack – but an embolism, with blood clots now lodged in Roger’s lung. He had to stay in the hospital for four days, but is now back full throttle as this newspaper’s editor and chief reporter. In fact, he seems healthier than ever.
But would I be able to report that happy prognosis without Roger’s having benefited from the prompt and professional actions of the Washington Rescue Squad? And how many other Rappahannock residents have benefited from the services of the volunteer fire and rescue squads throughout the county?
We should all give thanks and express our appreciation.
Walter Nicklin, publisher