Being Prepared: A Motto to Live by

BEING A PARENT is a huge responsibility. Kids count on us for things we can’t even imagine, until they come up. Montclair soccer coach Bill Gavce had one of those life-changing moments recently on a trip to a small Sierra lake called Middle Loch Leven.

“We’d been going there for 22 years,” he recounted, “the same group of family and friends.”

This year Gavce let his son take a buddy — an 11 year old teammate on his soccer team.

“We hiked in about five miles and were at this small, beautiful alpine lake and the kids were out doing things,” he recalled. What occurred next could have happened to any parent.

“The boys wanted to swim to the three little islands in the lake,” he said, “and one of the boys’ fathers and I were watching from shore.”

The first island was in fairly shallow water. But as the boys swam to the second island, his son’s friend began flailing.

“At first, I thought he was kidding,” said Gavce, but one of the fathers thought it was serious and he started to get in the water. Gavce called for his friend Gary Downs, a strong swimmer who often does triathlons. He was out there like lightning, but the boy had disappeared.

“He’d swallowed some water and was struggling and had passed out and sunk in maybe 15 to 20 feet of water,” Gavce said. When Downs, also a scuba diver, pulled him up — he looked dead.

“He was white as a ghost with blue lips,” said Gavce, who said they did rescue breaths and chest compressions, frantically, one after the other until the boy came around. A 911 call brought a life flight helicopter to the scene within minutes and the youth was airlifted to a nearby hospital.

“He’s fine,” Gavce said, relieved they were able to save the young man who he called a great athlete and normally a good swimmer.

“If there’s anything we can say from all this, it’s for parents to learn CPR,” he said. You never know when you’ll be called on to save a life. Not knowing what to do or how to react — isn’t an option.

SLOW SIGNS: You see them all over the neighborhoods — signs that remind drivers to slow down for kids returning to school. Sue Piper with Vice Mayor Jean Quan’s office said local residents are reusing the placards from last year’s National Walk Your Child to School Day, hoping motorists will slow to 25 mph.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “they were a bit over zealous and placed them on PG&E poles — great for visibility but not legal.”

She’s asking folks to be careful where they put the signs, and also asking PG&E to return the ones they’ve confiscated to her office so they can be reused. They cost taxpayers more than $5 apiece.

MAIL BAG: Thanks to an anonymous caller for tips on how to order a cab for short trips between Montclair and the village. She says most cab drivers will give out their personal cell number and you can call them directly when you need a ride.

Readers have been complaining that cab service is often unreliable in the hills, especially when ordered through a dispatcher. If only we had decent bus service, we wouldn’t have to care.

Meanwhile, reader John Castaldi sees that Oakland has made the New York Times again.

The article on new police efforts to fight crime says that “authorities in Oakland, Calif., have decided to call in the bad guys and tell them to knock it off. Or else.”

Weeks earlier the newspaper ran a picture of a young Oakland man, Amitai Cohen, shown hugging a fellow Israeli soldier after returning from fighting in Lebanon. I wrote about Cohen many months ago when he voluntarily left his home in the hills to join the Israeli army. The photo perfectly captured th


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