Bonnie Blankenbaker said her mother never shied away from learning new skills. At about age 60, Wanda Reis decided to study and become a volunteer emergency medical technician for the Bloomville squad.
"I know dad told her she was too old to accomplish something like that, but evidently, she didn't pay any attention to his comment. I remember her studying for the exam. After she had taken it, she could relate some of the questions. I have to say, as an RN myself, I wondered how I would have done; it seemed like a pretty tough exam. She passed with an excellent score," Blankenbaker said.
While discussing her art, Reis also mentioned her EMT escapades. One call she missed was an auto accident that killed a friend of the family. She wonders how she might have reacted at the scene.
Another time, when the squad went to help a heart attack victim, Reis was elected to remove the person's dentures.
"Then we got into a plane crash. ... it was right by a big briar patch by a fence row. We had to walk through that briar patch. I'll never forget it."
No one survived the crash, but the squad had to remove the bodies.
On a visit to her parents, Blankenbaker remembered her mother responding to a call from the scanner on the kitchen countertop. Reis offered to let her daughter come with her, if anything came in while Blankenbaker was there. Nothing happened that night, but her mom did relate some of her EMT experiences to the family.
"Probably the story about a motorcycle accident at the intersection of 224 and 53 is the story I'll never forget. It was at night and a husband and wife were both injured. Mom arrived on the scene and both victims were taken to the hospital," Blankenship said.
The woman lost a leg in the crash. Reis retrieved the severed limb, picked out debris and sent it to the hospital in hopes it could be saved.
Although it was too badly damaged, the couple survived and still live in the area.
"Mom saw her one day at the Tiffin flea market, recognized her and spoke with her. She thanked mom for trying to save her leg and her life," Blankenbaker said.