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Our Town: Will Handville saves lives and makes art

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The Sopris Sun regularly presents a series of interviews with folks you may not have seen in the paper before — a sort of introduction to your neighbors. This week, we caught up with Will Handville,  a paramedic for the Carbondale Fire Department and also an accomplished metal sculptor.

Q:What brought you to the Valley and to Marble?

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A:  I moved to Carbondale when I was hired by the Carbondale Fire Department. Then I met my now wife Evie, and we bought a home in Marble 12 years ago. We love it here, so quiet and peaceful. I couldn’t do what I do without her support and encouragement.

Q:Why did you join the Carbondale Fire Dept?

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A: I had been an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) since 1974. Then, I found out that Carbondale offered a lot of opportunity and growth. I learned that the fire district is about 360 square miles. This doesn’t include I-70. But, if we asked to help out elsewhere, we go. My schedule is several 24-hour days at the station followed by several days off. And I get to drive a big red truck!

Q:You’ve helped out during many disasters. Does one of them stand out for you?

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A: Yes. After 9/11, I travelled to New York with my co-worker Rob Goodwin as part of Carbondale’s response. I vividly remember the sidewalks in front of the fire stations were caked in candle wax, sometimes six or eight inches thick, from the candles that had been lit in vigil to those lost and missing.

Q:Why did you become a paramedic?

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A: I had always wanted to go that route. I felt there was so much more I could do as a paramedic to help people. As an EMT, I could perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), give patients oxygen, administer glucose for diabetics and help with treatments for asthma attacks or allergic reactions. With paramedic certification, I can start intravenous therapy (IV) to deliver fluids and medications directly into a vein and perform a tracheotomy to keep the patient’s airway open. I was so fortunate that the department completely funded my schooling for eight months — including housing — at St. Anthony’s Hospital near Denver. As a paramedic, my goal is to package (stabilize and ready for transport) and get the victim to definitive care, like a hospital.

Q:How do you feel about it now?

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A: Being a paramedic is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. This a lot of psychological stress that comes with the job. We do an “after action review” to discuss what happened after an incident, and how we are dealing with the results. There can be a lot of burnout. We have learned how to sometimes separate ourselves from the trauma we’ve seen.

Q:You are also a metal sculptor. How did you get interested in that art?

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A: My father was a welder, so I was drawn to learning those skills. I like that I could make anything I wanted. I explain I build art with junk, from rusty old farm equipment to old cars and trunks and anything recycled or just discarded.

Q:Please describe your art.

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A: I call it kinetic art as I want my work to move as the air moves.. When I search for materials, I look for whatever has an artistic flavor. Doing modern sculptures is very demanding. I enjoy that challenge. I am very proud that I have been part of the Redstone Art Foundation Labor Day art show.

   Q:How do sculpting and paramedic go together?

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A: I find sculpting very relaxing. Especially after a tough shift at the station, I’m glad I can go home and build something in my shop. What’s also great about living here is that Marble doesn’t have cell phone service. We don’t have a television either.

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