Tom Threadgill helps a decorated firetruck back up into the station
after returning from the 1978 Placitas Fourth of July parade.
The last alarm for Chief Tom Threadgill
Members, former members, and friends of the Placitas Fire Brigade
held a memorial service for Chief Tom Threadgill on February 19
at the main fire station. Tom served as fire chief from 1973 to
1988 and played a key role in the early development of the fire
brigade as a model volunteer fire department. Tom died on February
1 in Waller, Texas, where he had lived since he moved from Placitas
Chief Steve Snider led the ceremony amid candles, flowers, and
framed photographs of Chief Threadgill during his time with Placitas.
Steve had worked under Tom for a period of time, and admired his
patient leadership style. Former state Senator Ed McGough, who had
headed up the fire brigade’s auxiliary organization during
its early years, contributed his memories, recalling Tom’s
State fire marshal John Standefer spoke in remembrance of Tom.
He recalled the zany “hippies” who started the Placitas
Fire Brigade, and how different they were from the traditional volunteer
firefighters. He recalled Tom’s attendance at the state fire
school, and his excellence at water polo—a game played by
firefighters on a basketball court, using a hose stream to push
a basketball on a cable to the opposite goal. There were chuckles
all around as Standefer recalled how the fire instructors would
give the Placitas firefighters the most difficult tasks and hottest
drills as a kind of “hazing.” In the end, the unusual
group of long-haired men and young women won over the fire marshal’s
office and became one of the more popular rural fire departments.
Ralph Davis, Placitas’ second chief, presented the fire
brigade with Tom’s white fire helmet, handed down to him when
Tom left Placitas in 1988. Davis recalled the early days, when there
were no addresses, no pagers, few telephones, no firehouse, and
only one fire truck. He also recalled the first emergency-medical
technicians, who picked up a medical bag and oxygen bottle from
Liz Archibeque’s store when a call came in. Ralph recalled
that during the construction of the first fire station everyone
was pouring concrete for the floor and Tom put his handprints into
the wet cement. He asked if we would dedicate the old station to
The ceremony finished with some lively tales of the early years
of the Placitas Fire Brigade, its excursions to the state-run firefighter’s
training school, in Socorro, and the escapades of its members.
Thomas Lewis Threadgill and his wife, Marianne, moved to Placitas
in the early1970s. They bought an old adobe house at Ojo de la Casa,
and began slowly remodeling the almost ruined structures where their
daughter, Anne, resides today. David, his son, lives in Bernalillo.
Tom was an appliance repairman, and was often teased for his collection
of nonfunctional refrigerators and washing machines that he hoped
would be good for parts. Later, he became the mail carrier, and
was subjected to more joking about how Placitas was a town so small
that the mail carrier and the fire chief were the same person. Tom
loved small dogs, particularly Chihuahuas, and always had a small
dog in his lap when he ran the mail. He and his second wife, Carolyn
Hill, moved to Camino del Oso and lived there until they moved to
Texas in 1988.
Tom was appreciated for his ability to fix almost anything—a
skill that was well used in the early years of the fire brigade,
when all Placitas could afford were old fire trucks and water tankers
no one else wanted. He had always been mechanically inclined, and
every time something broke, Tom would fix it.
The memorial was a fitting remembrance of a man who gave a great
deal to the Placitas community in his own quiet way. He helped start
an organization that has become a cornerstone of the community and
gave a great deal of time and effort to the Placitas area. Look
for a station dedication to his memory in the near future.
Placitas Fire Brigade recognizes members, supporters
at annual banquet
The thirty-five member Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade represents
individuals from the community who donate their time unselfishly
to receive medical and fire training so that they can assist their
friends and neighbors in the event of an emergency.
On February 12, PVFB held its annual recognition banquet at the
Santa Ana Star Casino. The event was attended by members of the
brigade as well as the county medical director, Dr. Phil Froman;
the county fire marshall, James Maxon; and the county fire chief,
During 2005, the Placitas District experienced 438 medical and
fire emergency calls. Members are encouraged to respond to 10 percent
of these calls to maintain active voting status. But many members
go beyond the minimum and respond to 20, 30, 40, even more than
50 percent of these calls at all hours of the day and night. Ten
members in this high-volume category recognized at the banquet with
special uniform parkas were Dana Army, Debby Brinkerhoff, John Wolf,
Jerry Malloy, Steve Snider, Tom Hansen, Sandy Escarcida, Humberto
Macias, Bud Brinkerhoff, and top responder Drew Owens.
In recognition for attending emergency medical technician school
and becoming certified as EMT-Basics, medical first-response bags
were presented to Brad Bowman, Drew Owens, Carmen Marcolina, and
Helen Stein. The Rookie of the Year Award was presented to Dana
Army. The EMT of the Year Award was presented to Sandy Escarcida.
and the Firefighter of the Year award was presented to Drew Owens.
The Chief's Award, for the member with the best overall contribution
to the department, was given to Bud Brinkerhoff.
In addition to the above awards and special recognitions, door
prizes were presented to those present, thanks to the generous contributions
of over fifty area businesses and organizations.
County bans open burning
On February 2, the Sandoval County Commission voted to prohibit
open burning throughout the county until further notice. For more
information, call the Fire Marshall's office at 867-0245.
Mouse burns down the house
A mouse living in the house of 81-year-old Luciano Mares of Fort
Sumner did not take kindly to being set on fire. Mares said that
after he caught the intruder, he threw it outside onto a pile of
burning leaves. The burning rodent, however, got its revenge by
running back to the house and setting it on fire. Everything inside
the house was burned up, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican. No injuries
were reported, except for the mouse.
County offers seniors martial-arts classes
The Sandoval County Senior Volunteer Program has announced that
Thomas Pisut has joined the senior-employment program. As a self-defense
trainer in Karate and other forms of martial arts, Pisut will be
teaching classes as part of the program.
Pisut has received numerous awards for developing and teaching
self-defense to mature adults and persons in wheelchairs, using
walkers, and who are visually impaired. He has fourteen national
championships and is also a police self-defense instructor and a
retired police officer. Interestingly, he has appeared on What’s
My Line, To Tell the Truth, and some Mike Douglas shows. He also
has taught stress management nationally and internationally.
If you are interested in registering or learning more about Pisut’s
classes, please call 867-3813.
NM gets D+ in emergency medicine
—AMERICAN COLLEGE OF EMERGENCY PHYSICIANS
New Mexico ranked in the bottom fifth of the nation for its support
of an emergency-medical-care system that meets the needs of its
residents, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians
National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine, which today
gave the state an overall D+ grade, and ranked it forty-third in
the nation. New Mexico shared the near-failing mark with eight other
states, including neighboring Arizona and Oklahoma.
All fifty states and the District of Columbia received an overall
grade on a scale of A to F, plus separate weighted grades in four
categories: Access to Emergency Care (40 percent), Quality of Care
and Patient Safety (25 percent), Public Health and Injury Prevention
(10 percent), and Medical Liability Environment (25 percent). ACEP
began this intensive effort of grading the states more than a year
ago by appointing a task force of experts.
According to the Report Card Task Force chair, Dr. Angela Gardner,
the report’s results are a serious wake-up call showing that
in every category some states are making progress and some are lagging
far behind. Gardner urged New Mexico’s residents to visit
www.acep.org, where they can ask policy makers to address the state’s
deficiencies outlined in the report.
“If New Mexico’s emergency medical system gets a D+
on an average day, how can it ever be expected to provide expert,
efficient care during a natural disaster or terrorist attack?”
asked Gardner. “Our local, state, and national leaders must
work closely with emergency-medicine experts to ensure that all
Americans can receive the emergency medical care they need and expect.”
In the most heavily weighted category, Access to Emergency Care,
New Mexico received a D+ grade. Driving down the state’s grade
was its high number of uninsured residents; only Texas has more
citizens without health insurance. Contributing to the high uninsured
rate is the state’s poor spending on health care, including
public funding of health insurance. Further exacerbating access
to emergency care problems is the state’s lack of nurses;
it ranked forty-seventh among states for this measure. The nursing
shortage also may explain why New Mexico lags behind most of the
nation in its supply of staffed hospital beds.
Researchers said these problems contribute to emergency department
overcrowding by forcing admitted emergency patients to wait hours
and sometimes days until an inpatient bed becomes available. This
shrinks emergency department capacity, jeopardizes patient safety,
and forces everyone to wait longer for treatment.
Even though New Mexico’s report card identifies many weaknesses,
there were some bright spots. The state has a good supply of board-certified
emergency physicians, and its future supply looks good, too. The
report found New Mexico has an above-average number of emergency-medicine
residents who will likely stay to practice medicine in the state.
The American College of Emergency Physicians, with more than twenty-three
thousand members, is the national medical-specialty society representing