EMS Voices is a casual look at some of the men and women who serve on our industry’s front lines.
To those of you with overlapping interests in the essential services, meet someone from Long Island, NY with a dream job.
Jim Garside is an officer with the Suffolk County Police Department. Jim Garside is also an AEMT with the Suffolk County Police Department.
“I started volunteering at Commack’s rescue squad in 1986, while I was still in high school,” recalls Garside. “I got my ALS certification three years later.
“When I became a police officer (in 1993), I’d sometimes get dispatched to aided cases (illness or injury). Most of the time I’d be first on scene, so I’d just stabilize until EMS arrived. Then some agencies wrote nice letters about how well we worked together, so my supervisors started thinking about making EMS an official part of my job.”
In 2000, Jim finally got permission to answer aided calls not just as a cop, but as an AEMT. Financing was still an issue, though. “There was no money for equipment. I had to beg and borrow from hospitals and EMS.”
Garside managed to scrounge enough supplies to be self-sufficient. Ten years later, he carries all the gear required to operate as an ALS provider in Suffolk County. Some of the agencies in his precinct gave him radios, too, so he can receive and transmit updates. “Sometimes I can start treatment five minutes or more before the ambulance gets there,” he says.
All Suffolk County police officers are certified at the academy as EMTs, but most don’t pursue prehospital training beyond that. As an FTO, Garside sometimes accompanies rookie cops on their first aided cases.
“I had a new recruit with me one day when we answered a call for an adult male whose internal defibrillator kept going off. I remember his eyes being as big as saucers—my partner’s, not the patient’s.”
According to Garside, PD and EMS share a few prerequisites. “EMTs and cops both need good communication skills, good people skills. Also, we have to stay ready, even when there’s not much going on.”
What’s next for the fourth-generation police officer? “I’ve been assigned to our crisis action team as a tactical EMT. It’s sort of like the old ‘riot squad,’ except now we’re deployed for natural disasters, too.”
Hey, Jim, need a partner?
Mike Rubin, BS, NREMT-P, is a paramedic in Nashville, TN, and a member of EMS World’s editorial advisory board. Contact him at email@example.com.