Tell us a little about yourself, please.
My life-long automobile obsession continues, but that’s old news. Something people may not know about me is that I’m a relatively new and incredibly proud grandfather. My grandson, Samuel, was born in April 2014. Samuel’s parents are brilliant—our son, Terrell, is an attorney and the deputy director of the Oregon insurance commission; Sophie, our daughter-in-law, is Taiwanese and took her final exam for her MBA just a few days before Samuel was born (despite being dilated and having some minor contractions, she aced the test)—so we assume Samuel will develop a cure for cancer, broker peace in the Middle East or do something else to change the world. Samuel is learning English and Taiwanese, which means that when he goes through his awful adolescence period, he’ll be able to hurl insults at me in a language I don’t understand.
My wife, Karma, and I are excited to meet our second grandchild—Samuel’s cousin, and the first child of our other son, Todd, and his lovely wife, Julie—in November. I don’t expect my granddaughter to be speaking a language I don’t understand before she’s potty-trained, but stranger things have happened. What I do know is that this baby is going to have Grandpa wrapped around her little finger in no time.
Our youngest child, Erin, just got married to a great guy, Keith, this summer. No kids in that household, but they have four-legged babies and a shared passion for helping the underprivileged by expanding access to affordable, reliable solar energy.
Our children are unique, interesting and, with six degrees between the three of them, highly learned individuals. I couldn’t be prouder of my family.
How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?
Becoming a paramedic and healthcare executive wasn’t my initial game plan, but I was bitten by the EMS bug. I had the chance to ride out with ambulance crews as a medical explorer scout in high school. I enjoyed the medicine and quick pace, so I earned my EMT certification while studying microbiology at Washington State University and worked on the ambulance during the summers before my junior and senior years. After earning my bachelor’s degree, I went to paramedic school. I planned to do it for only a short while. That was back when the Phillies were a championship baseball team and the only Madonna anyone had heard of wore a serene expression and hung out in mangers. Nearly 36 years later, I’m still here.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Over the past 15 years at AMR, I’ve had the opportunity to work on many different projects. In the course of a single month, you might find me in Oklahoma at EMSA, in Denver at our National Resource Center and AMR-Air headquarters, in Washington on AAA business and in Hawaii with our air operation there. I love seeing how EMS functions across the country. I won’t say that I’ve “seen it all” just yet, but if there’s something I don’t know, there’s someone I know with an answer.
What is your biggest professional challenge?
Some people may think that the biggest challenges I’ve faced have to do with specific tough projects or some of the legendary personalities I’ve worked with or for over the past 36 years. But I’d say the biggest challenge for me—and probably for others—is more internalized. People with deep experience in one field have to work at remaining enthusiastic and engaged. We can’t become attenuated to our circumstances and accept “that’s how it’s always been” as acceptable answers. EMS is a dynamic industry. Many of the tools and techniques that were considered cutting-edge when I first started in the business have already gone the way of the dinosaurs; likewise, the next generation of paramedics are going to look at some of the things we’re doing now with utter disbelief. To remain relevant, leaders must stay informed and be open to new opportunities and alternative viewpoints.
What is your typical day like?
There is no “typical” day in my world. I might be in Oklahoma working with our operations team at EMSA, in Denver at our corporate headquarters or working with the AMR-Air folks, or in any number of other places. No two days are the same.
How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?
AMR has been a part of the American Ambulance Association since the beginning. Involvement—not just paying dues to have a name on the membership roll, but serving on committees, attending meetings and being part of the conversation—provides a platform for professional networking and shared learning. It gives us a chance to uncover about new solutions, hear different perspectives and see the big picture.