Farewell to CSL EMO pioneer Norman Adler

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Norman Adler

Norman Adler

Norman Adler had a profound effect on many hundreds of teens and young adults across Cote Saint-Luc and the West End of Montreal. More than most people know.

Sadly, Norman suddenly passed away this week, yet he leaves behind a generation of leaders walking in his very large footsteps, including mine.

As head of Cote Saint-Luc’s Emergency Measures Organization from the late 1970s to the early 1990s Norm touched the lives of so many curious, young citizens. These high school and CEGEP aged kids were looking to explore exciting volunteer opportunities, prepare for careers in health sciences and to make a difference helping out neighbours and total strangers in their community. Norm was a mentor, teacher and coach to these young minds, together with his trusty partner in volunteerism, Brian Payne.

Officially, the Assistant Director of CSL EMO (the precursor to the now famed CSL Emergency Medical Services or EMS) Norm was iconic to the CSL emergency scene in his family station wagon, often marked by the large EMO magnets on the doors.

alumni-assn

In eulogizing her father, Melissa Adler, spoke about driving around in the family wagon that was outfitted with lights and siren. Not your usual family car.

Melissa quipped how Norm would kid his friends during High Holiday synagogue services that he was listening to the baseball game on his earpiece. Those of us on the other end of his emergency walkie-talkie knew the truth though as Norm was quietly, perhaps secretly, ensuring the safety of our community as he strategically placed us in synagogues throughout CSL with lifesaving equipment in case of sudden illness for the thousands of congregants.

Norm was a rallying force to the younger generation, teaching discipline and leadership skills. Brian and Norm would assemble dozens of us each Remembrance Day for the military style march down Cote Saint-Luc Road to fall in at the cenotaph, standing at attention for far longer than any teen could stand still. Following in unison behind Norm’s station wagon, red Kojak lamp flashing from the roof, he would ensure proper decorum and respect befitting the solemn occasion.
Norm was very proud of his EMO and took particular pride in raising funds to purchase a defibrillator for the EMO rescue squad, the first defibrillator pressed into service in Quebec’s pre-hospital emergency medical services, according to his daughter.
Glenn J. Nashen riding aboard Cote Saint-Luc's first Rescue Medical Fire vehicle RMF-11, 1981

Glenn J. Nashen riding aboard Cote Saint-Luc’s first Rescue Medical Fire vehicle RMF-11, 1981

Norm’s community persona was linked to the famed brown and yellow uniform of the EMO. Our squad of “rescue, medical, fire” first responders worked hand in hand with the CSL Fire Department and all municipal services, training for disaster and preparing for any emergency. We would spend Sunday mornings practicing pulling victims from crushed vehicles behind headquarters at 8100 Cote Saint-Luc Road and repelling off the roof with a pretend patient in a “stokes” basket stretcher of what’s now the CSL Tennis Club on Guelph Road.Norm and Brian pressed us to be ready for any eventuality, cranking up pumps to evacuate water from flooded basements to handling chain saws to clear streets of downed trees.

 

Glenn J. Nashen, on duty, in Cote Saint-Luc's second ever First Response vehicle

Glenn J. Nashen, on duty, in Cote Saint-Luc’s second ever First Response vehicle

Many of us considered Norm our friend and mentor. Patty Lietman, Hal Newman, Neil Michaels (Emergency Measures Coordinator for West-Central Montreal Health), James Harkins (Fire Captain for Broward County), Jeff and brother John Silver, Toronto Police Sargent Lawrence Sager, Brian Goldberg, Councillor Ruth Kovac,  Elie Raie (Respiratory Tech), Tampa-St. Pete Paramedic Howard Levinson, Marine Biologist Per Comolli, ICU Nurse Naomi Cherow and so many more. Great friendships were born, careers launched and life altering moments began thanks to Norm’s vision.

Erwin Luden joined EMO in the early days of EMO and helped run the Auxiliary Security team. Today he works professionally as a CSL Public Security officer and his son, Brandon, is deeply committed to EMS and has also worked as a dispatcher.

Helen Karls is a longtime EMO volunteer who’s kids also became active in EMS.

Norm’s influence also touched John Levac, current President of the Yarmouth, NS, Fire Dept and firefighter instructor, Melaine Selby who went from volunteer to professional staff at EMS, Sheldon Goldberg who went on to become a leader in Hatzolah Montreal, the late Barry Tottle, Arnie Zwaig, Danny Raie (Pharma Research), Jonathan Lack (Periodontist in London, UK), Dentist Uri Laxer, Richard Herzog, Danika Bedard, EMS Director in the US South Brian Lax, Jack Dym, Walter Wheatley, David Sassoon (who became an Urgences Sante senior manager), and Neil Fyckes. The list goes on: Bruce Kahn, the late Doug Lion (CSL FD), Rick Liebmann (CSL and Montreal FD), Larry Rinzler, Jon Cooperman (Emerg doc), Cory Cooperman, Michel DiIorio, John Trager (ER doc) and Scott Hunt. There are so many more names that come to mind. Each one has a special memory of Norm.

Irving Epstein served as senior officer under Norm and Brian. He dutifully organized and coordinated the volunteers under their direction. Irving stayed involved in security and emergency measures for many years too, following his EMS experience.

Neil Michaels said, “He was one of the nicest men I knew. He was a mentor for me when I started at EMO.”

Hal Newman would follow Norm’s lead and become Cote Saint-Luc’s first ever professional director of EMO/EMS. “He was a dad of young kids when I first met him. When he passed Norm was a zaida (grandfather). Sounds like he lived life well and touched a whole lot of lives in the process. Good on you, Norm. Rest easy, brother. We’ll take it from here.” Hal continued that Norm was an early adopted of emergency medical services at a time when Quebec’s pre-hospital scene was unstructured and disorganized.

“Norm Adler was a phenomenal man who had such a love for CSL EMO,” said Patti-Beth Lietman. I remember so many shifts I spent on duty just sitting in his office and talking about so many different aspects of EMS. CSL EMO/EMS was such an important part of my 31 years as a volunteer there and led to my very productive life in Emergency Medical Services. RIP Norm. You will truly be missed.”

“I too was there in those early days. We had large shoes to fill as we built on Norm’s hard work to grow this 24 hour service into what it is today,” Councillor Ruth Kovac said. Ruth’s political career was also spawned thanks to her EMO experience, stating closely involved in emergency services planning and policy making for more than 30 years.

“One of the pioneers of EMO, although not an operational member of emergency medical response, he effectively worked, out of the limelight, in an administrative capacity to get EMO First Response off the ground,” said Lawrence Sager, a former EMO buddy of mine, who went on to become an officer in the RCMP and now in the Toronto Police Services. “He had a good sense of humour and his heart was always in the right place. I would have liked to cross paths with him again and talk about old times. Rest in peace, Norm.”

Norm’s organizational skills, together with Brian Payne, created what is still considered the leading municipal EMS anywhere in Quebec and the most advanced suburban city in the field of emergency preparedness, civil protection, first response and emergency medical services.

Norm’s passion for EMO was infectious and launched what became a defining element in my own personal brand, leading me in a direction I never planned for or sought out. My 30 plus years with EMO/EMS, my eighteen years as an Emergency medical Technician with Urgences Sante and even my political career as a City Councillor overseeing all aspects of public safety were in large part thanks to Norm’s mentorship, dedication and commitment.

Also, Many of us were actively involved in Norm’s campaign when he ran for CSL City Council in the late 80s.

The Cote Saint-Luc EMS flag leading the funeral procession for Norm Adler

The Cote Saint-Luc EMS flag leading the funeral procession for Norm Adler

How symbolic, appropriate and moving it was to watch his final journey, as the casket and pallbearers were led out of the funeral home by the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services flag, a symbol he played such an important role in building, paraded by current Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson. What’s more, this solemn event occurred on the eve of National EMS Week. True to his love for his community and his ‘other kids’, the EMO volunteers, contributions in his memory are directed to the Côte Saint-Luc EMS (Emergency Medical Services), (514) 485-6800 ext.: 5101.

Condolences to the family of the late Norman Adler. May he rest in peace.

 

 

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First ever Côte Saint-Luc EMS alumni reunion on Sunday

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First ever Côte Saint-Luc EMS alumni reunion on Sunday
Côte Saint-Luc, August 23, 2010 – The first ever Côte Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services alumni reunion will take place on Sunday, August 29 from 6pm to 9pm at the Public Safety Station, 8100 Côte Saint-Luc Rd.

Anyone who has ever volunteered or worked at EMS or its forerunner, EMO (Emergency Measures Organization), is invited to attend. Anyone with old photos is encouraged to e-mail them to ems@cotesaintluc.org for use in a slideshow at the event.

“Hundreds if not thousands of people have passed through EMS and EMO since 1964,” said Glenn J. Nashen, the council member responsible for public safety. “Many have gone on to fields of medicine and nursing. The alumni event is a great opportunity to get people reconnected, see how far EMS has come and explore opportunities to get involved again.”

People can RSVP by calling 514-485-6800 ext. 5106 or at the “CSL EMO – EMS Alumni Reunion & BBQ” Facebook event page. To find the page, search for the event name at Facebook.com.

Côte Saint-Luc EMS is an all-volunteer service that provides emergency response services and first-aid training to residents of Côte Saint-Luc. Each year, EMS responds to more than 3,000 emergency medical calls, arriving on scene in less than four minutes and often making the difference between life and death.

Looking for EMS-EMO Alumni

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Since its founding in 1965, hundreds of volunteers have served the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

Former members are invited to join the recently launched EMO-EMS Alumni Association.  Click here for full details.

30 Years of Volunteering in Cote Saint-Luc’s emergency services

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This month marks my 30th anniversary since first joining the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization (Emergency Medical Services or EMS since the mid 80s).

In 1979, fresh out of Bialik High School, I attended Vanier College during the day to complete my regular CEGEP program.  During the evening,  Ruth Kovac and I studied in Dawson College’s Emergency Medical Technician program under master instructor Gary McHugh.

8100 Cote Saint-Luc Road through the years: Home of CSL's first mayor, Luc Prud'homme, Police Station, Fire Station, Recreation Department, Senior Men's Club, Emergency Measures Organization, Emergency Medical Services, Public Security Department, Public Safety headquarters

8100 Cote Saint-Luc Road through the years: Home of CSL's first mayor, Luc Prud'homme, Police Station, Fire Station, Recreation Department, Senior Men's Club, Emergency Measures Organization, Emergency Medical Services, Public Security Department, Public Safety headquarters

EMO ran out of 8100 Cote Saint-Luc Road.  This heritage building was the home of the first mayor of Cote Saint-Luc, Luc Prud’homme.  Later it became the police station and fire station.  A holding cell is still in the basement and the stable out back, torn down in the 80s, housed the horses that raced to fires with water containers in tow.

Glenn J. Nashen on duty with Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization, 1981

Glenn J. Nashen on duty with Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization, 1983

Back then, EMO was lead by Brian Payne along with Norm Adler.  Jack Dym served as Chief of Operations.  Erwin Luden was involved in Auxilairy Security.  Several hundred, perhaps over 1000 young adults have passed through these doors and have gone on to many different professions. Several went on to become doctors, nurses, and medical technicians. 

EMO sparked my interest in local politics with an eye toward improving and expanding this service as well as other local emergency services.

EMO's RMF-11 (for Rescue, Medical, Fire) was a copy of the vehicles from the 80s TV series "Emergency"

1983 photo of EMO's RMF-11 (for Rescue, Medical, Fire) was a copy of the vehicle from the 70s TV series "Emergency"

 

In 1979 EMO received its calls directly from residents or from private ambulance companies that were stationed in Lasalle, NDG or elsewhere in Montreal.  Our response vehicle, RMF-11 (for Rescue-Medical-Fire) was a copy of the one used on the 1970s hit-TV series “Emergency”.  We wore brown coveralls with a yellow stripe, carried an official Cote Saint-Luc “Rescue” badge and wore either police type cap or a fire helmet.  At night, we would sleep on army cots waiting for the phone to ring.

Our training was excellent back then, as it is today.  In addition to the medical education we also learned light rescue techniques: how to repel off the side of a building and how to lower a victim in a stokes basket.  We practiced off the roof at 8100 and at the tennis court building on Guelph near Wentworth, when it used to be a pump house.

Councillors Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac enrolled at the Emergency Preparedness College of Canada 1991

Councillors Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac enrolled at the Emergency Preparedness College of Canada 1991

 We learned how to march in unison and paraded each year in the Remembrance Day Parade from the CSL Shopping Centre to the cenotaph (now Father Martin Foley Park) between the Fire Station and the Post Office.

Much has changed in 30 years and I am fortunate to have been involved in just about every major decision concerning first responders and emergency preparedness ever since. 

We fell under the Urgences Santé system back in 1982 when the ambulance companies were brought under a single communications and operational command.  This was before 9-1-1 was launched in Montreal.

Glenn J. Nashen on duty with Urgences Santé and Jeff Silver (in brown coveralls) with EMO

Glenn J. Nashen on duty with Urgences Santé and Jeff Silver (in brown coveralls) with EMO

My wonderful memories and experiences will last a lifetime, thanks to the CSL EMO and EMS.  It shaped my interest in community, influenced my professional career path and launched my political life.  My story has repeated hundreds of times for so many other young people who went through this program, and our community has been strengthened because of it.  And residents have been comforted and lives have been saved for more than 30 years.

Cote Saint-Luc EMO launched my side-career as an Urgences-Santé ambulance technician in 1980

Cote Saint-Luc EMO launched my side-career as an Urgences-Santé ambulance technician in 1980

  

My EMO involvement also led to 5 years of volunteer service on the Canadian Ski Patrol.  I rose to the level of Assistant Patrol Leader at Mont Alta in Ste-Agathe.

My EMO involvement also led to 5 years of volunteer service on the Canadian Ski Patrol. I rose to the level of Assistant Patrol Leader at Mont Alta in Ste-Agathe. This is a picture of me bringing an injured skier down the hill on toboggan.

EMO and FD team up during ambulance strike

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Read it here: 1986-12-03 UrgSantestrike

Grown man weeps before CSL council

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Read it here:  Thanking EMO, 1986 (Suburban Newspaper)