Dave Montesi, founder of EPAD
(1970 - )
With extensive Italian roots in Western Connecticut, the lure of Colorado’s mountains was sufficient to cause Dave Montesi to create an offshoot of the family tree in the Rockies. His mother had been a member of a ski patrol back East, and his father had brought him skiing in Colorado in his younger years, so skiing had been in his blood. He bounced from Idaho Springs to Durango (where he was a ski instructor at Purgatory) to Northern Idaho before settling in Evergreen in 1994 doing landscaping, a warm-weather job that enabled him to be on the slopes during the winter months.
Maintaining his certification as a ski instructor, he took a step up to attain Level 2 Alpine Certification in Idaho, with the Level 3 certification coming when he returned to Colorado where he then achieved Level 2 Nordic Downhill Certification. He’s been affiliated with Loveland Ski Area for 20 years, initially as a ski instructor and for the past 7 years as a paramedic on the ski patrol.
As a landscaper, Dave had gained a familiarity with the layout of Evergreen, something that was beneficial when he signed up for the 1997 probationary class of Evergreen Fire/Rescue (EFR). That training would be a life-changing experience in many ways, first leading to a new career and secondly, meeting another trainee – Tali – who would later become his wife.
Admitting it was the thrill of driving a fire truck that had enticed him to join, he soon observed that it was the medical end of the business that saw all the action.
Starting as a volunteer with the fire department, Dave was inspired to apply for a paid position as an Emergency Medical Technician EMT) when an opening was advertised although he lacked the IV certification required. He didn’t get the job because of that, but he later added the skill to his list of credentials and was hired the next time there was an opening. EFR then paid for him to become certified as a paramedic. He’s been employed by EFR since 1999, currently as a paramedic and shift supervisor.
While on duty, someone had come to the fire department stressing the importance of public access for automated external defibrillators (AEDs). AEDs are devices that automatically assess the technical signs of impending cardiac arrest and enable people with simple first aid training to apply electrical therapy to stop the arrhythmia, allowing the patient to regain a regular heartbeat.
Delays in correcting certain cardiac conditions can quickly lead to irreversible brain damage and death once cardiac arrest occurs.
Dave thought Evergreen was a good community to promote the access and use of AEDs “because it was big and the mean age was on the older side – about 54 then – so I jumped in with both feet and did it.”
In 2002 Dave started what is known as Evergreen Public Access Defibrillation (EPAD), originally part of the fire department but now a nonprofit organization of its own. The goal when they started was to eventually have 40-50 defibrillators in places where people tend to congregate or where incidents are most likely to happen. First and foremost on the list of potential sites for defibrillators were grocery stores, followed by schools and fitness centers.
With fundraising and building community awareness, EPAD shares the expense of placing a $1,200 piece of equipment in a business. It also trains employees of that business on how to use the device as well as how to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and follows up on the testing and maintenance of equipment once installed.
Twelve years later – in 2014 – there are 57 of these emergency kits in place throughout the area – but, as Dave notes, none in any of the big stores like King Soopers, Safeway, Walmart or Home Depot because of a resistance by the large chain stores. Apparently having an AED in one store in a community where these devices are readily available could imply that other stores without such devices don’t value their customers as much, thus causing legal implications.
Dave teaches about one-third of the 25-30 CPR classes taught in the community each year. EPAD and EFR cooperate in providing classes – free unless a certificate is required. To date they’ve taught 100 kids at Clear Creek High School as well as another 100 at Evergreen High School in addition to hundreds of others in the community. They’ve also taught CPR to middle-school students at Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen. “Some graduates from high school will have seen CPR instruction three times,” Dave points out. “We should be hitting eighth graders at every school.”
“It’s a low-budget operation,” Dave notes, saying that spending amounts to about $8-9,000 per year. Aside from support from his wife, it’s pretty much a one-person operation. Dave would like to see a volunteer take on some of the administrative work.
His schedule as a paramedic means he works 48 hours consecutively and then has 4 days off, allowing him to devote time to his family, volunteer work, his ski patrol duties and EPAD. Saving lives is his passion, and he sums it up by saying, “If you can make someone feel better on one of the worst days of their life, it’s the best thing in the world.”
When asked about his profession, Dave is quick to say he’s a dad. With two sons – 12 and 15 – he makes time in his schedule to attend lacrosse and football games and follow the EHS marching band. He keeps his hand in landscaping and enjoys biking – both mountain biking and road biking. “I love to bike,” he says. “Exercise keeps me sane.” During the blizzard of 2003, Dave skied to work from his home in the Upper Brook Forest area. “It was all downhill…..”
Earlier this year, Dave was honored by the Evergreen Elks Lodge #2363 as the recipient of the Evergreen Fire/Rescue Person of the Year for his outstanding service and dedication as a citizen of the community.