EMS Career Spans Most of a Lifetime
Stanley Waldrip, Jr., EMT-P/AAS, has been in EMS for most of his life—since age 15 to be exact. Waldrip, recipient of this year's Braun Industries/ZOLL Medical EMT/Paramedic of the Year Award, began his career with Jacksonville Volunteer Rescue in Jacksonville, NC—a career his parents told him would never last. In 1987, while still in high school, he won the North Carolina Governors Award for Youth Rescue of the Year, then went on to graduate at the top of his paramedic class at Catawba Valley Community College, where he earned an associate's degree in emergency medicine. After graduation, he went to work for New Hanover EMS near Wilmington, NC, and stayed there for 17 years before moving to his current position with Pender EMS & Rescue in Rocky Point. Waldrip explains why he left after so many years with one agency.
"Wilmington is a pretty big city, and I started to get a little bit burned out," he says, "so I moved to Pender where the pace is slower. In Wilmington, we worked 12-hour shifts and averaged about 14 calls per shift. Pender County works 24-hour shifts and averages about 9 calls in that time. Working the 24-hour shifts also gives me more time off with my family."
When asked what he finds most satisfying about his career, Waldrip doesn't hesitate: "I love doing public relations," he says. "I love going to the schools to teach the kids about safety and show them the ambulances. I love having one of the kids come up to me in public and tell his dad, 'I met this guy at school. He drives an ambulance.'"
As a member of the New Hanover County Board of Health and New Hanover County Public Health and Safety Committee, Wardrip worked to promote health and safety in the community, and started a Boy Scout Explorer Post for New Hanover Regional Medical Center EMS to encourage young people to get involved in EMS. In 1992, when EMS was taken over by the medical center, Waldrip noticed that most of the publicity was focused on the hospital and very little on EMS, so he and a few others started their own association. "Soon people from agencies outside of New Hanover wanted to join, so we opened it up to Eastern North Carolina, and we now have more than 500 members," he says. "Our job is basically to promote EMS and to give us a voice in government. One of our biggest accomplishments was getting a law passed to ban cell phone use while driving."
In addition to his work in Pender EMS, in 2007, Waldrip and other members of the Wrightsboro United Methodist Church went on a medical mission to Jamaica, where they checked blood pressures and blood sugars on more than 250 people, and distributed donated over-the-counter medications and eyeglasses to those in need. High airline costs and the price of gas will prevent them going back this year, but a team is making plans to visit some of the poorer areas of Appalachia in the Smoky Mountains to provide similar care.
Judy Flood, a retired New Hanover paramedic/field training officer, was pleased to hear her former colleague had won this award. "Stanley is a great paramedic," she says. "I always enjoyed working with him. He was fun and witty, and we worked well together, no matter how bad a call was. He's very caring and was so good with patients and their families. It's a stressful job, but he always had something funny to say or some way to keep us from getting bogged down in that everyday stress."
Greg Holloman, human resources manager at Pender EMS, has known Waldrip for several years and has nothing but praise for his former colleague. "We worked together in Wilson for a very short time, then at both New Hanover and Pender," he says.
"He's a good person who goes out of his way to help everyone he can. We've both grown and changed with EMS, and EMS has grown and changed with us. He helps a lot with children's activities and tries extremely hard to go beyond just running ambulance calls."