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SMITH: Young EMT out to prove deafness no obstacle

For her birthday, Amber Tansey suited up and rolled to medical calls with San Francisco firefighters.

The Santa Rosa native, now 28, has completed courses at SRJC's Public Safety Training Center and she aspires to go to work as an emergency medical technician.

It would be an ambitious goal even if she were not deaf.

“People are curious about how I can do the work,” said the 2003 Santa Rosa High alum. She said she communicates by every means available: hand gestures, sign language, computer messages, written notes, assistance from an interpreter, lip-reading.

Tansey said she believes that the way she perceives the world can be an asset to an emergency response team. “I see the macro; I see what's happening all around me,” she said.

Right now she's seizing opportunities to ride with paramedics and EMTs, and she's sizing up whether it would be better for her to seek work in an ambulance, on a fire truck or elsewhere in emergency medicine.

“I know I can do it,” she said.

A former instructor, ambulance paramedic Bryan Smith, said Tansey's determination shone through at the JC academy.

“She is driven,” Smith said.

“She might have to be willing to be creative, and the company she works for might have to be willing to be creative. But I definitely believe she can do it.”

500 CANDLES? The grand birthday party at the Emeritus senior community in Santa Rosa the other day came together after staffers discovered that five women living there will turn at least 100 years old this year.

One of the celebration's guests of honor was Dorothy Cox, who turned 101 on Jan. 1 and who bounces out of bed every day for a brisk walk about the premises.

Honoree Mabel Yeomans, who'll be 100 on June 22, has the distinction of appearing on a popular birthday card. She was still short of 20 and doing some modeling when a photographer asked her to wear a skimpy, silly get-up: a spiny paddle of cactus covering each part of her that decency mandated be covered.

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