Red Cross volunteers Liz Dietz, left, and Peg Geringer were among those supporting FAST’s work in 2017 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Go to this album to see photos of FAST members at the San Jose Jazz Festival that same year.
On February 19, almost 50 people attended the last official meeting, dubbed the “FAST Finale,” of the Silicon Valley First Aid Services Team, or FAST. The Silicon Valley FAST was founded in 1959 and was the most active of the few FAST groups remaining in Red Cross regions throughout the country. This dedicated local team of professionals served almost 25,000 hours just from the period of January 2015 through February 2019.
During its tenure, the local FAST had become a welcome sight at many of the area’s major public events such as the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the Obon Festival, Cinco de Mayo events, the San Jose Jazz Festival, and the Nike Women’s Marathon.
The Silicon Valley team provided a variety of services from stations, carts, and even bikes and walking teams. Team members applied their medical skills to perform a wide range of treatments, from first aid for minor injuries such as blisters, scrapes, and strained muscles to major medical or trauma events. The team coordinated responses with Advanced Life Support and transportation with regional EMS units.
In addition to treatment, the team provided a range of complementary services and supplies, including blood pressure checks, stroke awareness education, sunscreen, diapers, and more than a dozen over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Benadryl.
The team’s leadership included a chairperson, Peg Geringer, and a licensed physician, Dr. Ian Brown, M.D., from Stanford University, who served as medical advisor. At the time of its disbanding, the local FAST had 125 members. Reportedly at its peak, FAST had over 400 members. Team members consisted of Emergency Medical Technicians, Emergency Medical Responders, Registered Nurses, and other trained personnel.
Some past highlights included the use of AEDs to save a life at the Bay To Breakers in San Francisco, saving a dog from dehydration at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, supporting the Women’s March in 2016, and providing first aid to pigs, horses, and goats at the Santa Clara County Fair.
The team was a sterling example of a volunteer organization. Team members took responsibility for all operations, whether that be training, logistics, or rendering care. The team was composed of a diverse group of dedicated professionals of all ages and served selflessly for half a century.
The community and the Red Cross owe the local Red Cross FAST a great deal of gratitude for their dedication and service. Each of the team members contributed to the welfare of the community and to accomplishing the team’s mission.
We hope that FAST members will continue to volunteer their valuable time in service to the Red Cross and the community.
About the author: Larry Dietz is a Colonel (Retired), U.S. Army Reserve, as well as a dedicated Red Cross public affairs volunteer in the Silicon Valley Chapter.