Bob Ahgook was interviewed on October 25, 2005 by Marla Statscewich at his home in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. In this interview, Bob talks about becoming a health aide, the training he received, communicating with the doctors by radio, taking care of patients, and delivering babies. Bob also talks about how he was able to apply what he knew as a hunter to his health aide work, the challenges of being a health aide, the important role health aides play in the villages, dealing with emergencies and transporting patients, and some of the problems he encountered with healthcare management between the Tanana Chiefs Conference and the North Slope Borough. Finally, Bob mentions other jobs he had after he stopped being a health aide, and how because of his health aide training he was able to help himself when he was having a heart attack.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Community Health Aide Program Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Oct 25, 2005
Narrator(s): Bob Ahgook
Interviewer(s): Marla Statscewich
Transcriber: Carol McCue
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Some background information on his life.
How he got involved helping people as a health aide.
How he was selected to become the village health aide.
His first training and starting to work as a health aide in Anaktuvuk Pass.
Communicating with the doctor by radio from the school building, and the improvement of a satellite phone line directly to his house.
Delivering babies was not his favorite part of the job, and it was very hard when patients died, but he enjoyed learning and helping people.
Training to be a health aide and the knowledge he had as a hunter that was useful to him as a health aide.
More information about the many things he learned as a hunter, and why he did not continue as a health aide.
Management of the health aide program between Tanana Chiefs Conference and North Slope Borough, and why he stopped being a health aide.
The difficulties of being a health aide and on how important health aides are to their communities.
Illnesses he treated and the tools and medicines he had to use.
The frequency of doctor's visits to the villages, patient transport in case of emergency, and names of a few of the health providers he remembers well.
Working with doctors on describing symptoms and prescribing medication.
The time he realized he was having a heart attack and saved his own life, thanks to his training.
The kinds of work he did after being a health aide.
Reflection on being a health aide and an anecdote about a patient.
Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.
After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
MARLA: Okay. We're on. My name is Marla Statscewich, and today is October 25th, 2005. I'm in Anaktuvuk Pass. I have the pleasure today of talking with Bob Ahgook, and his wife Rhoda is here, as well. And we're in his home, and it's a beautiful evening. And this is for the Community Health Aide Program. And so thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. BOB: Yeah, you're welcome. MARLA: And so maybe you just want to start with some -- some background information, where you were born, when you were born, who your parents were. And then we'll go from there. BOB: I was born in mouth of Colville, that's down north of Nuiqsut area. And when I was a kid, I -- that's where I was born. MARLA: What year were you born? BOB: 1929. MARLA: Okay. BOB: Oh, September 29. MARLA: Okay. And who were your parents? BOB: My father is Jesse Ahgook, and my mother is Myrtle Ahgook. MARLA: Okay. And how many siblings do you have? BOB: I have five brothers -- four brothers and five sisters. MARLA: Wow, big family. BOB: Yes. There were 10 of us. MARLA: And what number are you? BOB: I'm -- I was number 6, I think, yeah. MARLA: Okay. So you had lots of -- you were right in the middle? BOB: Yeah, about -- my sisters were -- four of them were above me. I mean, they were older than me. MARLA: Right. BOB: And one of them was the last -- last girl. My mother adopted her to his sister and his brother because my brother -- she adopted a boy from his sister when she died. Kind of a -- my brother adopted brother was born early in October, then my youngest sister was born later, in May. MARLA: So when did you come to Anaktuvuk Pass? BOB: We -- we live around down coast and around Prudhoe Bay, used to call Barter Island, this side Barter Island. We went up to Wiseman. We live around Itkillik area for a few years, we went to Wiseman 1945 -- '43. I went to school but I didn't get enough education, I went fourth grade, then we went to Fairbanks in 1944, just before Christmas. So we live around there until I come back to Anaktuvuk, down Tulugak 1949. MARLA: And is that where you met Rhoda? BOB: Yeah, they were around here. People were around here and then I -- I started learning how to -- I mean, I started following people around so I -- so I could learn how to hunt and everything, to live on awhile in Anaktuvuk area, as people used to go out in the spring, summer and kind of for bounty hunting, you know, for wolf, that's how they make them a little bit of money. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: In those years before no -- no job. Everybody don't have a job those days. MARLA: So you did a lot of trapping and hunting then? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: In the late '40s? BOB: Yeah.
MARLA: And then how did you get involved with the -- with the health -- with helping people and helping to take care of people? BOB: I -- early in those days, there was a guy named Dr. Irving from the university who's coming around and working with Simon, some -- I don't know what they were working on but it might be collecting some birds, wildlife or some kind. MARLA: And is that Simon -- what's Simon's last name? BOB: Dr. Irving. MARLA: No, Simon's last name. BOB: Paneak. MARLA: Okay. BOB: Then I -- then in those years there was some health people, Barbara, she used to come around, too, and works on the wildlife or something. And then from there, I got involved with -- in 1953, in Dec -- November, I believe. There were some kind of flu there. The village had a -- I started trying to help people get well or didn't have no kind of medicine. Irving -- Dr. Irving got some penicillin, I guess he carried around a kind of penicillin used to be powdered, one you have to mix with water. And then I started following him around. Well, he asked me to follow him around, so I started going with -- we start going to the house to house, tent to tent or something there. I learned a little bit about giving shots when they leave, they leave some a little bit of penicillin with somebody else, I was not in the -- not, but I learned how to mix. It was needle with numbers on it. We have to boil them in those days to, you know, to clean them up. And I learned a little bit about that. And my mother died in 1953 from that flu, so I -- from there, I know a little bit about training in Fairbanks. When I was in Fairbanks, you know, when I work, you have to train first-aid kit or something, a little bit about that. But that -- not the human body, I mean, to care -- take care of a wound or something, that's about it. And from there, I -- I tried to take care of some people that needs to -- needed help. Then somebody was -- I guess Barbara left some kind of medicine, penicillin, only -- and Dr. Irving. And somebody was a health aide. Like, you know, to take care of people, give them shot or not much. But it was really help. We needed a -- needed a shot or something. I don't know. They don't have a stethoscope or nothing.
BOB: It was a health -- Simon was the first one, I guess he take care of some -- some people that sick. Then went on to somebody else again. And they have a -- in the old days, they have a, what they call mother's care or what they call them. In the old days, long ago. Then -- MARLA: Someone coming in from -- from another village was taking care of people, or -- BOB: No. Nobody come in from the other villages to take care of people. MARLA: People just took care of each other? BOB: It was kind of Dr. Irving and Bob Rausch I think started the health aide thing to take care of people then. No medicine, nothing. All they had was penicillin, kind you have to mix with water. MARLA: Right. BOB: That's the kind. I mean, you have to boil the water before you -- you use it. Put it on -- mix it with the penicillin. From there I was voted in. I didn't know, I didn't look for job, but I was voted in and I went training. They had contact with Tanana Hospital in those days, yeah. That's where village school. Some help from Barrow and the Indian Health, they sent people to Tanana for treatment or ladies with having baby, they send them to Tanana. It was Alaska Airlines, they don't have much plane go like it comes once a week or -- or every two weeks or something like that. That's Wien bush plane, small one from Bettles, Wien Alaska Airline got a little plane down Bettles, and Bettles started taking care of mail service and from Bettles to here maybe once a week, something like that. And -- MARLA: So who -- who selected you to be a health aide? BOB: I was selected sort of -- they voted me and everybody, like, voted, you know. MARLA: Like just the whole village got together -- BOB: Yeah. MARLA: -- and they said that Bob would be a good health aide? BOB: Yeah. I'm going to be a health aide. Somebody come around from Fairbanks, I think, looking for health aide to go to training. Of course, I was not involved with anything, you know. All I know is a little bit about health and first-aid kit I saw, that's about it. MARLA: And during that flu, you and Bob Rausch were the only ones going around, and Dr. Irving? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: Giving penicillin and taking care of people? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: You didn't get sick? BOB: I didn't -- I didn't get sick. Somehow, I -- I never got it. So then everybody got well, springtime. Pretty nice. But we lose quite a few people that year. MARLA: Yeah.
MARLA: So then you started training in Tanana? BOB: Yeah. They called me up, my fare was all paid through Wien, and Andy, I went with Andy and had to go to Hughes Phillip or something, and Tanana. MARLA: Who did you go with, Andy who? BOB: Andy Anderson. That's a Bush pilot from Bettles. He flies up here with 185 or small plane. Some -- I went Tanana, I was two weeks there and my first training. MARLA: Do you remember when that was? BOB: Huh? MARLA: Do you remember when that was, what year that was? BOB: What year? Gee, I forgot what day. It was September, I knows it was September. MARLA: Sometime in the '60s, or -- BOB: No, it was later. MARLA: Okay. BOB: Maybe '68, I guess. Some doctor in Tanana was -- Dr. Spark or something, I don't know his name. MARLA: So what did you do between 1953 and going to have training? Were you still taking care of people? BOB: I -- I would just drop by or when they come by, do this when people call me up or go see me, go see -- can I -- can you go see somebody, you know. And I do. MARLA: How did you know what to do? BOB: I don't know. I mean, tried to help people when they got fever. That's about it. Clean them up a little bit, that's all. I mean, not a hell of a lot. The only thing they got is -- we got is aspirin like Vicks and Vaseline. Yeah. MARLA: Do what you have to with what you have. BOB: Nothing. I got nothing. MARLA: So you went for training in Tanana? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: And what was that like? Can you tell me about that? BOB: It was like -- it's nice. I mean, they -- you had a nurse, you have a nurse to train health aide in Tanana, I was not the only one. There was some of the people from the villages down -- downriver or upriver. MARLA: Do you remember anybody else you were training with, any of those people, any of those names? BOB: No, I -- no, not too much. MARLA: Okay. BOB: I seen somehow a doctor called me, I would say in the hospital. And we would go around and visit sick ones. And he took me around to the patient, to the patient he's got, the doctor. Yeah. MARLA: So did you learn -- in that first training you learned first aid and also how to work with patients in the hospital? BOB: Yeah. Yeah. MARLA: And then when you came back to Anaktuvuk Pass, where did you work out of when you took care of people? BOB: My home. MARLA: So people came here? BOB: People do -- not in this house. Across. They come and see me, yeah. Whenever they have -- kids have a fever or something. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: You know, take care of a little bit of cut or something. Yeah. MARLA: And -- and then how did you talk to the doctors? BOB: Well, in the old days, the school has an old radio, like those Army type old radio, sort of big one. You know how them Army radios. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: That's what they had, yeah, Army radios. In the old days like, you know, big thing.
MARLA: And then did you talk to the doctor every day? BOB: Not -- well, when I have, yeah. When I have something to talk about. Then I give him the information and all that, and doctor told me to do that and that. You know. Over the radio. And it was pretty bad. I mean, radios don't get there all the time. And like today, you have hard time, it's good weather or bad weather. In those days, you have a long wait from here to Tanana. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: Sometime you -- some villages have -- they hear the doctor again, you know. MARLA: So when that happened, did they relay to you -- BOB: Yeah. MARLA: -- what the doctor was saying? BOB: Yeah. Yeah. We work it out that way. And later on, from university, this lady come around, they were studying telephone to satellite in those days. It was a lady named -- I've forgotten. And when I went to Fairbanks, I see that lady, took me upstairs and all the equipment, you know, for telephone. And -- and they -- they put money in for a telephone line from the -- from the school -- school to my house. Then put a phone. She put a phone in my house, then I could talk to doctor there in the hospital. It worked out pretty good that way. I mean, it worked out fine, nearly every day. MARLA: So then whenever you needed him, whenever you needed the doctor, you could -- you could talk to them? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: Do you remember when that was, when the telephone was put in? BOB: It was early, the satellite, that's when they were working on telephone through the satellite. MARLA: Okay. BOB: Through the university. I mean, I guess it was first ones, I don't know.
MARLA: What were some of your first experiences? Is there anything that stands out in your mind as one of your first experiences as a health aide after you had training? BOB: Well, it was not a -- not a hell of a lot of, I mean, pay. I mean, you can't nearly -- nearly a lot of volunteer, not job. That's the only time you need it. There, you have to be on call all the time. Those days, it was not much anyway. It was a great experience for a lot of people, it was great. I mean, to help people out. MARLA: What was the hardest part of the job? BOB: Hardest part? That, for me, it was -- for me, it was delivering babies. I don't know how. I mean, I think -- that's the thing I never -- to train much on that. It was other people that mother -- mother's care, or whatever they call it. They do that more work than I do. They. MARLA: The midwife? BOB: Yeah. Yeah. MARLA: Midwife. Okay. BOB: Yeah. That's right. I just -- the only thing I do is kind of report the kind of baby you have, how many pounds. You know, the thing they do when a baby come, weigh him and boy or girl. MARLA: And the length and -- BOB: Yeah. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: You measure them and weigh them. MARLA: And so you didn't actually have to deliver on your own? BOB: Well, I did one. We did one. MARLA: Can you tell me about that? BOB: Yeah. Yeah. They had a -- had a baby boy. It was kind of early baby. She was supposed to go to Tanana or Fairbanks or one of them, we have to deliver them. And Rachael had to do that. She would do more than I do. She know -- she had babies her own -- her own. So. MARLA: Rachael who? BOB: Rachael Riley. MARLA: Okay. And was she a midwife? BOB: Yeah, she was. MARLA: Okay. BOB: We kind of worked together, me and Rachael for a while. And she helped me out a lot. MARLA: So did you have to go to the person's house when they were delivering or -- BOB: Yeah. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: Yeah. Do that. MARLA: Did you do a lot of house calls? BOB: Yeah. Some -- somebody go see me. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: It's kind of hard for -- for me, it was kind of hard for me to take losing patients. I remember, like this boy used to like to go see me every time he's sick a little bit. And it was kind of hard. I mean, to take it after he died, it was a big loss for me. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: Yeah. I never got used to it before that. MARLA: Right. Were there some good experiences you had where there was, you know, you felt like you helped somebody? BOB: Yeah, I think so. I helped a lot of people. MARLA: Is there any that sticks out in your mind? BOB: With -- with the doctor, you know, advice. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: I don't do nothing except the doctor's advice.
BOB: I went to quite a few training, I went to Barrow and Anchorage. They gave me about 14 weeks of training, and not -- not the whole time. I mean, not one -- not one time. Couple weeks or three weeks was my last one in Anchorage. And in Fairbanks, it was -- Anchorage was the last one I went to. And I -- I learned lots because -- I mean, about -- about people, human body. Of course, I know myself, I mean, what I have. You know. Just a few things I got -- I had to learn. And, you know, being a health aide, being hunter at the same time, I think when you're out hunting, you -- you know about caribou, learn a lot of things about caribou. You look at it different ways. Animal have body, and human body, they work kind of the same. I mean, you know. Blood circulation and other things might not be the same on a liver and heart maybe, but there's a lot of veins and other things on animal, you learn a lot of things from that. MARLA: Right. So from butchering an animal, then you look on the inside of their body. BOB: Yeah. MARLA: And you get a sense of -- -- BOB: Yeah. MARLA: -- a human body? BOB: Yeah. It's just, you know, built different. Blood circulation is the same or, you know. Learn lots. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: And I collected a lot of samples for wildlife and some, I collected a lot of samples for radiation. That's when they had a lot of radiation in -- in -- in animals. MARLA: Who were you collecting samples for? BOB: I collected samples for Fish and Game in Fairbanks, Bob Rausch, Bob Stevenson, and Park Service in Anchorage. And Bob Rausch. MARLA: What did they learn from those -- from what you -- what you found? Do you know? BOB: Well, I learned a lot of things about what the caribou, other animals have, you know, the kind of sickness they get from -- from there to there. Like caribou, sickness from animal waste, you know. I work with Fish and Game a little bit.
MARLA: Okay. So we're back on. And you were talking about what you learned when you were doing caribou samples. BOB: Oh, yeah. I -- I learned a lot of things, what the caribou got, and what the peoples would eat, you know, eat the caribou, the kind of caribou you get when they were sickness, kind of tell the people don't take it or it's a waste, some of them, but -- MARLA: How could you tell when they were sick? BOB: They -- there was a lot of things you find out when you skin caribou or cut up caribou, you have a lot of -- a lot of things. Like tapeworm. It's a little egg that caribou have in the -- in the body, not just one place. You should cook it or don't eat it. You know. Cook it or give it to dog some. And a lot of things. Liver, lungs. Pneumococcus got in caribou lungs. MARLA: And then you said something about radiation, there were radiation levels in -- BOB: Oh. That's when -- when they had to -- I collect samples for radiation people, for -- I guess atomic energy or I don't know. They just got me to collect that and that, from what sort of a body on caribou, what part of it. They tell me to collect that, that, and date it. And where you got it, you know. MARLA: Hmm. And was that while you were a health aide? BOB: Oh, yeah. MARLA: You were doing that? BOB: You know, it's not a -- when I was a health aide, it's not a -- it's not a big pay. I mean, have to do other things that to support the family. MARLA: Right. BOB: You have. $60 is not a hell of a lot of money. MARLA: Yeah. And how many children did you have? BOB: Huh? MARLA: How many children did you have? BOB: We have five. MARLA: Yeah. It's not a lot of money for five children. BOB: No. Yeah. MARLA: Was it hard to get away to hunt? BOB: Well, I could any time I want. And any time I work. I mean, when they call me, I'm back home and do that. MARLA: Was there anybody else in Anaktuvuk that could help during when you were a community health aide? Was there another health aide, an alternate, or -- BOB: Yeah, I have an alternate. They help me out when I'm out, they go to the house there, when the children have fever or tell the parents what to do. MARLA: Who is that? BOB: I have Rachael and Beverly was one of them. MARLA: Okay. BOB: She's a good one. And she went to a lot of training after. And Rachael went some training. My -- they were my alternate. And there was -- I guess a health aide all over Alaska helping a lot of people. Yeah. MARLA: That's for sure.
BOB: Yeah, well, doctor want you or you should go in that day when -- when the doctor wanted people, they called me up or would call my house. Used to go in the day. So reservation, they make and have to give it to that person. MARLA: A prescription or something? Or. BOB: Yeah. A lot of time they send medicine for the patient, they have -- when they go -- when they go to Fairbanks or Tanana, and they -- and they started -- after I got on Tanana Chiefs, then -- then -- and the North Slope Borough, they got on -- they start giving pay -- pay from -- excuse me -- from Barrow. We was on Barrow for a while. Then later on they got to Tanana Chiefs. MARLA: So you were sort of -- BOB: They make agreement with North Slope Borough and Tanana Chiefs which way the best way which -- we would send our patient, because I have to go around -- we don't have a plane directly to Barrow, only thing they have Fairbanks, closest, get there faster, about a couple hours' flight. And they have to go to Tanana Chiefs. MARLA: So you were kind of being tossed -- Anaktuvuk Pass is being tossed back and forth between North Slope Borough and TCC? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: Sort of -- BOB: They -- they make a contract, I guess, North Slope Borough pays Tanana Chiefs. MARLA: Oh, okay. BOB: And that long ago, I guess they -- Tanana Chiefs took over the pay -- payday or to work for Tanana Chiefs right now. Well, they got clinic now and it make it a lot easier. Yeah. MARLA: Was there ever a clinic when you were here -- BOB: No. MARLA: -- when you were a health aide? BOB: No. MARLA: So it was only out of your house? BOB: Yeah. Only out of my house. MARLA: How long were you a health aide until? BOB: Quite awhile. About five years. MARLA: And what made you -- BOB: What made me? MARLA: What made you want -- yeah. BOB: Yeah. And that was a good one for me to decide. Contractors offered me a job, so right now, I took it. MARLA: Right. BOB: I mean, bigger payment, payday. Bigger money. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: So I just quit, go to work for carpenter, work on school.
MARLA: Did people still come to you and look for help? BOB: Yeah. Even then, after I quit, they come see me, get my advice. Or cause somebody to go out. I did -- Beverly was after. Yeah, I kind of -- being a health aide, kind of hard for being health aide when you lose -- when you lose people. You -- I mean, myself, I -- I think my -- I think myself I didn't do a good job on, you know, saving people. It's kind of hard for health aides, I guess, all over the world losing a person. To me, it was, something like that. MARLA: Yeah. And sometimes there's nothing you can really do. BOB: Yeah. Well, you knew what -- what was going to happen. I mean, if the patient don't take his medication regularly, you know, medication is something you have to know for people to take their medication to save themself, get well. Something like that. MARLA: Did you -- did you ever have -- were you ever a chemotherapy aide or did you ever help with people who had tuberculosis? BOB: Tuberculosis? Yeah. Those doctors come around every two, three months were taking care of a lot of -- a lot of patients, I mean, a lot of people. Today is great. I mean, still in all, I think health aide was -- I mean, today, very important to villages when you don't have a doctor around. That's what you call when they say, too. And have them meeting. That's the greatest thing that could happen to a lot of villages, to have a health aide, and training costs a lot of money to do it, but you're helping -- a health aide is training, I mean, to take care a lot of people. And sometimes you save them right there, don't have to go to Fairbanks or a clinic. Just the minor things. MARLA: Right.
MARLA: What kind of -- what kind of things did you treat most? BOB: Most? Mostly cuts and fevers and flu's. Cuts most -- mostly, yeah, important thing a health aide do, some bandage. You know, people don't cut big things, I mean, not every day. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: It's a -- it's a small one. The health aide could do. I mean, don't have to go to a doctor and get sewed up or a few stitches, that's about it. I mean, you learn how to take care of them. I mean, which you learn in training -- training. MARLA: Hang on a second, I have to flip the tape. Okay. We're back on again. And I was wondering, do you -- you were saying you were -- you give people stitches. Do you remember you had to suture people? Do you remember the first time you had to give someone stitches? BOB: Oh, small cut, you know, I had to take care of -- I didn't have a needles for my work, and I did -- I had to use tape -- I mean, first-aid kit to do that. I mean. Put in -- kind of sort of clean them and put them together. MARLA: What did you do without a needle? BOB: Well, you have to use the tape, I mean. You already have. You have to clean them and not show them the cut but to use first-aid kit. MARLA: What was in your first-aid kit? BOB: Huh? MARLA: What did you have in your first-aid kit? BOB: Band-Aids. I mean, they make -- they make Band-Aid that works good, put them together, pretty much. Put a little bit of medicine you put on so they won't get infected. MARLA: And what kind of medicines did you have in your kit? What did you have as a health aide in Anaktuvuk, what kind of equipment did you have or medical? BOB: Well, I have pretty much -- pretty much of everything you should have. I mean, a lot of things for infection -- you can't get infection, like penicillin, they gave you. And a lot of other medicine you should have which would work. You know. Quite a lot of medicine, quite a few. MARLA: Was it -- was it a suitcase size or was it a brief case size of stuff that you carried around with you, or -- BOB: Well, pretty good supply. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: They gave you quite a bit of medicine for infection, so they gave you what -- when you talk to doctor, doctor says you give them shot. Okay. We'll give them shot for five days or -- in the old days, they used to tell you, you know, you give them how many day shots, or big or small. It got quite a bit -- quite a bit of supplies for taking care of your patient. If you can't -- if you can't, doctor tell you to send them in. MARLA: And how did you send them in? BOB: BIA or doctor authorized -- authorized a patient to go. MARLA: So would a plane come from Tanana to pick up a patient? BOB: Yeah -- no, no. Fairbanks, Tanana, no. Have to be charter to Tanana, to take patient to Tanana from Bettles or closest airline. Wien was for Anaktuvuk to take patient in.
MARLA: And did you have to go with the patient? BOB: Oh -- one time. MARLA: What was that like? BOB: It was nighttime. Weather kind of worries you a lot. I mean, sometimes when the doctor says you have to take them in, you have to go in. You have to follow the patient there. MARLA: Do you remember what was wrong with the patient? BOB: When the people -- pretty much when the people have seizures, you have to kind of watch them all the way so they won't bite their tongue or -- try to take care of them. Seizures was one doctor told you to follow. MARLA: Yeah. Did the doctor come here? BOB: They come here every -- every two, three months, yeah. Because in those days, they have a lot of money from pipeline and oil. And right now they have put in -- I mean, budget is kind of small. MARLA: Yeah. And do you remember which doctors would come up here? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: Who were they? BOB: Probably pick out -- hospital pick out which doctors should be taking care of Anaktuvuk or some other villages. They got, I don't know, meeting, I guess, used to go to Anaktuvuk or how many villages do you have to take care of. MARLA: Who do you remember? BOB: Well, I guess from Tanana used to be some doctor, Dr. Brown. He was pointed -- appointed one to come up to take care of Anaktuvuk. Not -- not -- not just every doctor that come in. Sometimes they have meeting, I guess, before they couldn't come here, so they send other -- other doctor to take -- to take Anaktuvuk. MARLA: Hmm. BOB: Right now we've got a Dr. Springer from Tanana Chiefs, Fairbanks. MARLA: And how often does he come up? BOB: Pretty -- not much now because the budget. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: Cut back down. Used to be like every couple months or three. Now they have to coming -- he's coming this winter, I guess, in November, next month. MARLA: Did you have Public Health nurses come here? BOB: Yeah. Every -- whenever they need to come, giving shots. MARLA: Then did you learn how to give shots -- BOB: Oh, yeah. MARLA: -- as well? BOB: Oh, yeah, I give lots of patients shots. MARLA: Like immunizations or -- BOB: Yeah. That. But they don't -- I mean, they don't have that much people, like right now. I used to give shots, yeah. MARLA: And was there -- were there other men who were community health aides when you were a health aide? BOB: Yes. No. There was Simon before me, but he -- I don't know how much training he get. But I don't know. MARLA: Were you mostly training with women or men when you would go to your trainings? BOB: Huh? MARLA: Were you mostly training with women or men when you would go to your trainings? BOB: Mostly woman was my -- was my teachers. In Anchorage they have, I guess, nurse, authorized nurse or something, train people. That's mostly government program. MARLA: Hmm. What -- what was that government program? BOB: Well, it's a -- like BIA or mostly military -- military doctors, you know, that go -- that's where the -- before they become doctors, I guess they go -- the military doctors, most of them, I guess. And then come there, they go on -- go on more school or something. MARLA: Right. Okay.
MARLA: Is there a particular case that stands out in your mind, something that someone came to you for help and you were able to help them? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: Do you want to talk about that? BOB: Well, I don't know. Something you don't know when you went in training, something you did learn about to take care of the patient, kind of you go to the doctor and just tell them I -- I usually do, I tell the doctor, I just don't know. I mean, I can't take care of it myself. I might try and tell them what symptoms I -- symptoms are. MARLA: Was it hard to describe symptoms to the doctor? BOB: Yeah, pretty much. Some -- something you don't know the names or mostly in my -- in my work, it was kind of -- kind of usually, I mean, when you in training, they train you what you -- what you should know. MARLA: That's -- BOB: Get a lot of help from doctors. MARLA: But still I would think it would be a little bit difficult to describe to somebody what some symptoms were. BOB: Yeah. Yeah. Sometime you -- and myself, I don't know what they are, I just tell them the problem. I mean, when you are not trained to know what's all about, you know, you just can't -- you can't tell what's really happening. MARLA: Right. And the doctors are pretty good about knowing what -- BOB: Pretty much. You know, we have to check the patient, which you can't do. I mean, take temperatures and what part of the body, doctors know quite a lot. And they just -- doctors gave you what medication you should give. You have -- get a booklet of medicine, the patient should get, you know, but have to be a doctor's advice, a lot of them.
MARLA: So did you have -- you have a little booklet? You had a -- BOB: Yeah, right. MARLA: -- a little manual or -- BOB: I got a -- I got a book. I still have them. MARLA: You do? BOB: Yeah. I used to have a book. MARLA: Maybe you'll show it to me when we're done. BOB: Well, it's somewhere. I don't know when I got it. MARLA: And that was pretty helpful to be able to know what to do? BOB: Yeah. Pretty much. I got -- I've got a book on human body, I mean. The kind you could buy from -- from store somewhere. MARLA: So it wasn't a manual that the Health Aide Program -- BOB: No. Well, they gave me one when I -- when I started home. You know. And you could order that kind for everybody, you know. I give my daughter a book because she's got a lot of kids to read, you know. That every mother and parents should have if they are going to raise babies or boys, or, I mean, children. MARLA: Do you remember what that book was called? BOB: It's a health -- it's a health book. MARLA: First-aid book or -- BOB: Yeah. Pretty thick one. See a lot of things, human body. MARLA: What -- what was the scariest moment that you remember? BOB: Scariest is a heart attack. MARLA: Oh. BOB: For me. I -- I think I saved myself. MARLA: Really? How? BOB: Yeah. How? I was home alone, Rhoda was out in some Olympic or -- I was home alone here. I -- I knew I was getting a heart attack. I had -- the thing I learned from -- from my training what you can have, I mean, when you have a heart attack, they train you what you're having, you know. So I learned -- I knew I was going to have -- having heart attack. So I just called on the CB, they come right away, even, you know, people come right away with -- with -- with the clinic van. Fire -- firemen have, volunteers have not health aide but they've been trained to pick up people. MARLA: EMT or something? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: Uh-hum. BOB: And I -- and we had the health aide who took me over to clinic right away, start giving me those little pills for heart attack. So the health aide talked with the doctor right away and they keep me overnight because the weather was pretty bad. And they sent me in to -- Frontier was pretty much equipped with oxygen and a little bit of -- I mean, health aide gave me medicine just when I -- put me on the plane. They took me right to the hospital, Memorial Hospital in Fairbanks. And they gave -- I mean, the doctor came from Tanana Valley Clinic. It was a heart doctor, it was a lady. And it was in -- I was patient in Fairbanks Memorial. She come over to see in the evenings, I didn't know the right time, and she listened for a while and she said you're having -- right now, you're having heart attack right now. MARLA: Wow. BOB: She -- she start giving me those little pills for my heart. And they send me right to Anchorage right now. I mean, they didn't -- they didn't waste time, they put me on a rescue plane, I guess those little -- MARLA: The jet? BOB: -- little jet. Yeah. It was all equipped. And took me down to Anchorage right away. MARLA: And then what, did Rhoda know that you -- where you were? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: Okay. Good. BOB: They got drove in Fairbanks, they took me in right to Anchorage. MARLA: So if you didn't know you were having a heart attack, you maybe wouldn't have called on the CB, huh? BOB: Yeah. Right. MARLA: It's pretty. BOB: Probably -- probably wouldn't be here today. MARLA: Wow. BOB: I mean, probably wouldn't have saved myself. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: I think. I mean, what I learned in training was I knew a lot, so I called on the CB, I need help. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: They come right away. And got me to clinic. MARLA: That's great. BOB: I think -- I think everybody should know, I mean, try to learn if you're going to have heart attack or something like that, to -- you know, people could help themselves. MARLA: Right. BOB: If you're going to have a heart attack, you are prepared, you know, for that -- for that reason. MARLA: Right.
MARLA: So when you finished working as a health aide and you were working -- you said you were working as a carpenter? BOB: Yeah. MARLA: What, you were working -- BOB: I went to -- I went to -- I took the job right away because I couldn't afford my job. I mean, my family was -- the money I was getting was 60 bucks here, not -- so I got foreman job on carpenter. I know a little bit about carpenter. I mean, I build myself a house. Anyway. MARLA: And then what did you do after that? BOB: What? MARLA: Were you a carpenter from the '70s until you retired. BOB: No. MARLA: Or -- BOB: No. First I -- I got hired as a equipment manager from Barrow. That was -- that was the Public Works from Barrow. I was getting paid from Barrow. Then I went to work there for a while, for Public Works, being part-time mechanic, taking care of equipment. So. MARLA: So it was your family -- did your family move to Barrow, then, too, or were they still here? BOB: Still here. MARLA: Okay. BOB: Yeah. Here in Anaktuvuk. So I worked there for a while, Public Works, and I did build the school. They build the school, so I applied for plant manager in school. It was nobody -- I guess -- it was another man from Barrow when applied for school manager. I mean, equipment -- being plant manager and school. So they hired me to work on school for -- until I retire. And after I retire from school, they call me up from Borough, this guy was training people how to be -- how to be a carpenter, that time they have CIPM, you know, the rebuilt -- I mean, built house -- I mean, helped people out who applied for -- who have applied for house repair. MARLA: Okay. BOB: And add a room. In those days, they have the small houses, we had a lot of room for the house. This is our government working. Yeah. When somebody goes see me and after I retire, I want to work, so I took this job again. MARLA: After you retired? BOB: After I retired, I -- well, I was need to do something. Kind of -- kind of lonely after you retire. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: You've got nothing to do. So I took the job for a carpenter boss where other people work, you know, I plan -- I plan things how to repair and all that. So I went there for a while. Then when they got a new mayor, they put me out since I had been -- since then I been retired. I mean, I work for Fish and Game here now, collect samples. Then I -- MARLA: And what kind of samples? Mostly caribou samples or -- BOB: Yeah, wolf, wolf samples, any kind of samples they want. MARLA: That's kind of fun, huh -- BOB: Yeah. MARLA: -- to get paid to go trapping and hunting? BOB: Yeah. I was a hunter and trapper, collector, same -- same time. Make a little money extra. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: I was happy. MARLA: It's good. It's a good thing to be able to do. BOB: Yeah. Well, it was fun for me. Fun for me to do that. I mean, I do that every day anyway. MARLA: Yeah.
MARLA: Well, I think you answered most of my questions. BOB: Oh, yeah? That's great. MARLA: If there is anything else that you wanted to say for the record about your experience as a health aide or if there's any advice you might want to give to people who maybe are thinking about being a health aide, you can do that. BOB: Well, yeah. I could say something about like I said before, everybody should try to learn what going to happen. I mean, you -- people should try to learn if you've got a heart attack, you should know. I mean, everybody should know, try to learn that. MARLA: Right. BOB: What -- what the symptoms you're going to have. If you're going to have heart attack or -- or something. Some other things, if you're going to raise -- raise kids, you should learn a little bit about the health. MARLA: CPR and -- BOB: Yeah. Yeah. What child is having a fever or some kind. And -- and no -- alcohol free and drugs. MARLA: Were you glad that you were a health aide? BOB: I was, yeah. I -- I think I tried to help a lot of people, I think, if you need -- needed it. Needed it, yeah. I always tried to help people. MARLA: I know there was a woman I talked to on the plane today who said that you were her favorite health aide. BOB: Her favorite, huh? MARLA: Yeah. And that you helped her. She almost couldn't walk. BOB: Huh? MARLA: She said she almost couldn't walk. BOB: Oh, yeah. MARLA: And you gave her shots in her knees so that she could walk. BOB: Oh, yeah. Okay. Yeah, I know. Oh, yeah. MARLA: She said you were the -- you were her favorite, most favorite health aide. BOB: Well, I thank you for that. MARLA: So I'm sure that she's not the only one who would say that you did quite a bit to help. BOB: Well, I help a lot of people. I -- I'm very happy to -- to say. I mean, I was happy to do it. And tried to help people out. And some of my favorite doctors helped me out a lot -- MARLA: Yeah. Yeah. BOB: -- with my work when I was there. MARLA: Did you have any mentors, any people who you looked up to, or -- or any mentors? BOB: Well, some old people I learned to -- to do a lot of things when I come up, I look up a lot of old folks. And the good advice they gave me. It's nice to listen to a lot of old people. They give a lot of good advice. That's where I learned a lot of things, from old people. I mean, I listened to what I could use. MARLA: Did they ever talk about traditional methods of healing? BOB: There's a lot of things they talk about. MARLA: Was that something you incorporated at all into being a health aide? BOB: I don't know. I -- I learned a lot of things about hunting. I started following around people who were hunters, you know, I listened when -- when they tell you to do that, that. That's good -- good teaching. MARLA: Yeah. BOB: I mean, they did teach, but I listened. When they talked, I listened. I liked it. MARLA: Well, I think this has been a great interview. BOB: Oh, thank you very much. MARLA: And I thank you very much. Is there anything else you want to add? BOB: Not really. I guess what I said, I said, you know. MARLA: Okay. Well, thank you very much. BOB: Thank you.