Chuck Hartwick, 1959-2011

The Denny’s was fairly empty at the time I entered and sat down for a cup of coffee and a burger. That’s because it was somewhere between morning breakfast and noon-time lunch.

Shortly after I sat down and ordered my meal, in the door came a man I knew only by the name, Red. He had with him, his ever-present dog, which was allowed into the restaurant because it acted as a service-animal, as Red had epilepsy.

As I sat eating, I casually watched Red as he moved towards one of the seats located at the  front counter. Usually, his dog would lay down next to where he sat, but this time the dog jus’ stood there.

Without much notice, Red suddenly stiffened up and fell backwards into the aisle between the counter and a booth. He was having a seizure.

Immediately, I asked one of the waitresses to call an ambulance and I went over and knelt down by Red. There wasn’t very much I could do for him at the time other than speak gently to him.

However his seizure event became progressively worse. As his thrashing about became more violent all I was able to do was protect him from striking his head on either the floor or some nearby object.

Within minutes the Del Norte County Ambulance Service pulled into the parking lot. One of the EMT’s to come through the door was Chuck Hartwick.

Chuck and I had gone to high school together. We also studied martial arts and emergency medicine after school most nights and I considered him to be a renaissance man long before the term became popularized.

It wouldn’t be the last time I would see Chuck as he worked the ambulance. One early morning I was near run over by a woman, who had been broadsided and in a panic, stabbed her foot down on the gas pedal.

Instead of running me over, she slammed into a retaining wall designed to protect a building near Highway 101. The impact snapped her right ankle in such a way that the injury became a jagged, open wound.

It was Chuck who arrived with his partner driving the ambulance. Together, we packaged the woman up for transport to Seaside Hospital, where doctors were able to save her foot.

But the most interesting time I worked with Chuck was when we were Juniors in high school. Someone said that a girl was laying on the floor in the girls bathroom of C-Hall, bleeding.

I went into the bathroom and found she wasn’t jus’ bleeding, she was having a baby.

Chuck arrived soon after. Needless to say I was happy to see him.

The ambulance soon arrived and they loaded the girl up on a gurney and rushed her to the hospital. All this time later, I cannot recall the girl’s name.

Unfortunately, Chuck passed from this life into the greater-life, February 7, 2011. He would have been 52, September 2nd.

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