The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Tom Threadgill
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 in1988.

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 quiet demeanor.

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 Tom’s memory.

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, Jon Tibbetts.

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

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, 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 emergency medicine.



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