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Alfred Page has become Dr. Rescue for emergency personnel

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Dr. Alfred P. Page III, a Greencastle chiropractor, stands ready to answer the emergency call. Page, wearing an antique fireman's hat, has served proudly for more than 52 years in various jobs ranging from firefighter to fire chief. Currently, Page is a reserve firefighter with the Greencastle Fire Department, and he is the incident safety officer.

GREENCASTLE, Ind. -- Imagine that you are at an emergency where a person is repelling down the side of a cliff and gets into trouble. He can't go up and he can't go down. He's scared. What do you do? How do you get them help?

Who are you going to call? Call the expert - Call Dr. Alfred P. Page III.

Page, a Greencastle chiropractor, is more than a mild-mannered businessman. He's also a rescue specialist. He has been trained to rescue people in just that situation.

A rope would be secured and thrown over the cliff so Page could hook on and go down the cliff - head first. Yeah, head first. This prevents the person from trying to panic and grab hold of the rescuer.

In training at Texas A&M, College Station, Tex., Page was put in exactly that situation - rescuing a stranded person. This time it was in a training environment though. He went down the rope, hooked the stranded rock climber onto his rope, uprighted himself, and then the two were brought to safety. Page was the oldest person in the class at 69.

"I just praise God that I've got the strength to do this," Page said.

Page remembers playing fireman as a youngster, copying his father, who was a firefighter.

It all started back in 1950, when Page attended a rescue class in Maryland where he had to learn how to extract people from buildings like the ones found in Hiroshima after the United States dropped the atomic bomb. And 52 years later he is still going strong.

"The buildings were built to look like the buildings in Hiroshima, including warped steel beams with chunks of concrete hanging from them, crumbling elevator shafts several stories deep, and other problem areas we had to overcome," Page said. "I was the youngest person in the class at 18. I was still in college at the time, and working for my father and my uncle."

That whetted his appetite. Page said that he will continue firefighting until the hearse or the ambulance comes for him.

Besides his chiropractic business, Page teaches firefighters what he learns from the varied schools and classes he attends around the U.S. Page has been taught how to handle situations such as hazardous materials, high angle rescue, swift water rescue, and in March he will go for trench rescue.

None of the courses he attends cost the fire department. He pays his own way, including travel to and from the training site. Besides classes in Texas, Page has attended classes in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, and of course, Indiana.

His ties to Clay County include training newly-formed volunteer fire departments in the 1980s in proper rescue techniques, including how to rescue people from auto accidents without risking more damage to the person or injuring the rescuer. He has also burned down more than 30 buildings in Clay County as training exercises for the local firefighters. In the 1980s, Page taught classes to Van Buren and Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Departments. He is an Indiana State Fire Instructor, a title he has held for more than 25 years.

In Page's chiropractic business, he has had 18,526 patients, not only from Putnam County, but from the surrounding counties, as well as people from Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan.

"I only wish I had 34 more years to practice," said Page, who arrives at work by 6 a.m. to be open by 8 a.m. Many nights he is still at his practice long after 6 p.m. When he isn't treating patients, he's on call to the Greencastle fire department. So far this year, Page has been on 275 runs with the department.

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