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Saving lives that are slipping away is what the driven, demanding Dr. John McDonald was all about.

McDonald personally kept many hearts beating, and countless others through his creation of Sonoma County’s first emergency department, in 1971, at Memorial Hospital.

He initiated he county’s first paramedic program, founded the REACH air-ambulance service and was vital to the creation of a regional trauma center at Memorial.

McDonald was just 63 when he died in an airplane crash in 2000. Several grateful members of his family were present the other day when Memorial named its emergency department and trauma center for Dr. John L. McDonald.

FUELING DEBATE: Never has a parliamentary debate team from a two-year college won the national sweepstakes.

Until now.

SRJC’s 25-member forensics team competed in nine tournaments this academic year and turned in performances that won it the No. 1 spot in the ranking by the National Parliamentary Debate Association.

A bursting Hal Sanford, the JC’s director of forensics, said that despite the October fires — two team members lost their homes — the students trained like Olympians in a competitive event that demands critical thinking and persuasive speaking under pressure.

“They left it all on the floor,” said Hanford, who praises also program co-directors Mark Nelson and Susan Houlihan.

If you’d care to congratulate and support the team, Hanford suggests a tax-deductible donation to help it continue to travel and compete.

Checks made out to the SRJC Foundation, with “Speech Tournament” in the memo line, can be mailed to 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa 95401.

TELL A VETERAN, or take note if you are one, that there’s a barbecue from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday near the boathouse and boat launch at Santa Rosa’s Howarth Park.

Members of Amvets Post 40 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 223 will work the grills and be happy to serve fellow vets a meal. There is no charge, but donations won’t be thrown into the lake.

THE TRIP TO D.C. was memorable already for about 30 juniors and seniors from Rincon Valley Christian School. Then this happened.

At Arlington National Cemetery, four of the teens were selected to participate with sentinels in the placing of a wreath from their school at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The video shows how solemnly David Caris, Eva Guillory, Brenden Smith and Schylar Turpel took the responsibility to step in unison to the sarcophagus overlooking the capital, present the wreath bearing the name of their school and stand with their hands over their hearts for the playing of taps.

IT’S HOLY THURSDAY, or Maundy Thursday, the day many Catholics reflect on the washing of the feet and the day about 20 students from Cardinal Newman High School will gather at the county animal shelter for the Washing of the Paws.

The idea sprang from two girls at the Catholic school north of Santa Rosa who work at the Sonoma County Animal Services shelter as part of their senior service project. They invited a band of classmates to come honor the dogs with a pre-Easter bath.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com

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