Former EMT looks back on 34 years of volunteer service

By Rich Norman | Feb 09, 2019

I celebrated the end of my 34-year career as a volunteer EMT Dec. 31. As I look back, it truly was a rewarding time in my life.

I began my volunteer career in 1984 on Long Island. At that time, the rescue company of the town's fire department, of which I was a member, needed EMTs. I first took a first responder course and then an EMT bridge course to become a licensed EMT. The instructors were so dedicated and so committed to having us become topnotch EMTs. They shared many real stories to make us better EMTs. I remember so clearly that my "clinical" was in a hospital emergency room and I was asked to help with a young man who was in a very serious motorcycle accident. I thought to myself if I can get through this, I'll be a good EMT. I did and learned a lot that day. I passed my tests and received my license. My first call was an assault patient, and I remember thinking what did I get myself into.

My pager was strapped onto my belt for the next 34 years. Through the years, the calls for help varied. There were cardiac calls, motor vehicle accidents, childbirths, falls, drownings, boat accidents, difficulty breathing, suicides, domestic violence, diabetic emergencies, plane crashes, hunting accidents, drug overdoses, fire department assist and people who just needed help with their medical emergencies. Through the years, I responded to calls at all times of the day and night in all types of weather. I left many church services, meals, family events and work to answer these calls.

In my 34 years, I never delivered a baby. I came close a few times. Once the baby was born minutes before our arrival, and a few times the baby was born on our stretcher in the emergency room. Through the years, I assisted in several fatal car accidents. I attended many debriefing sessions to help get through some of the real tough calls. Over the years, there were calls that would haunt me because of the circumstances of the calls. It was always difficult to stay wit a family after not being able to save their loved one. I always knew that I did the best I could, but it was God's decision for the patient.

Through the 34 years, the EMS system has improved greatly, with systems, procedures, protocols and technology. I can honestly say that the enthusiasm of the EMS providers has been topnotch. My fellow EMS providers are talented, caring and very dedicated, as are the ER staffs in the hospital.

The purpose of this brief articles is to share and encourage any person who many have interest or is considering becoming an EMT. I can share the benefit of my experience.

Through the years, I have helped countless people. I never had my skills questioned or was involved in a lawsuit. My proudest moment was helping a very close friend survive a heart attack. I also helped the South Thomaston Ambulance Service design and purchase our current ambulance.

As I retire from the South Thomaston Ambulance Service, I know that younger EMTs will continue to answer the calls and assist our neighbors. Like the Marines, we are looking for a few good men and women to give the best they have, to assist and care for our fellow neighbors. It truly has been a rewarding experience. I would do it all over again in a single heartbeat.

Rich Norman recently retired as assistant director of the South Thomaston Ambulance Service.

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Cynthia Mary Anderson | Feb 15, 2019 12:05

Well done, good  and  faithful servant.

Posted by: Drucinda Woodman | Feb 10, 2019 12:42

Thank -you, Rich !! You are a wonderful man who lives to serve.Hoping many follow in your footsteps.Enjoy your deserved rest .

Posted by: Cathy Baker | Feb 09, 2019 17:30

No one better to have on a call.  Many thanks for all your hard work and dedication -- you and Pattie D. were an awesome team.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 09, 2019 11:01

Rich Norman: God with skin on!

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