Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Saving lives

By Will Bublitz

Saving lives at the scene of a vehicle crash or a serious medical emergency is the job of Doug Freeman, one of the paramedics of the Limon Ambulance Service (LAS).

Paramedics are usually the first health care professionals to arrive at the scene of an emergency. Its their responsibility to make an initial assessment of a patient’s condition and provide medical assistance en route to a hospital. 

“As a paramedic, I’m able to provide Advanced Life Support for my patients,” Freeman said. “Depending on their condition, I can administer treatments and perform procedures that can be life saving. I’m also able to do some advanced procedures including administering some new pain medications.”

As a paramedic, Freeman is one of the most highly qualified members of LAS. However, he believes the public can also be confident in the high level of expertise held by the ambulance service’s Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT).

“We have a lot of EMT’s here at Limon Ambulance that I’d feel safe putting my own life in their hands,” he said. “They have the technical savvy to do what needs to be done to help patients. There’s an old saying that paramedics save lives, but EMT’s save paramedics. That’s true here at the Limon Ambulance Service.”

Freeman has been a LAS paramedic since moving to Limon in April 2014. While a professional paramedic, his work with the local ambulance service is on a volunteer basis.
“There are only three full-time paid positions in the Limon Ambulance Service and those are already occupied,” he said. “I’m a volunteer and do things that are required including doing shifts a couple times a month.”

While he is a volunteer with LAS, Freeman’s full-time job is being a paramedic for the Morgan County Ambulance Service.

“I live here in Limon and commute to work up there,” he said. “Under my schedule, I drive up to Morgan County, spend a few days and then come back home. I usually work out of Morgan County Ambulance Service’s station in Brush. I’m hoping to eventually become one of the full-time staff members of the Limon Ambulance Service.”

Freeman is not only a new resident of Limon, but also of Colorado. He grew up in Illinois in the small town of Rutland and graduated from Fieldcrest High School in the nearby community of Minonk.

“Although my family wasn’t in farming, I took Ag classes in high school and was a member of FFA. I took classes that were more oriented to the trades than going to college. After I graduated in 1998, I looked into buying or renting a farm, but that didn’t pan out.”
Instead, Freeman decided to give the military a try.

“I went to see a U.S. Army recruiter and we talked about a career in the military,” he said. “He showed me all the military specialties that I could go into. I don’t know what really prompted me to do it, but decided to become a medic. It sounded like it would be the most interesting military specialty and that’s what it turned out to be. It was also a chance to become a licensed EMT.”
Freeman’s enlistment was as a member of the Illinois Army National Guard. After completing his military training as a medic, he returned home to Illinois.

“After I got back, I signed up for the local ambulance service in Minonk as an EMT,” he said. “I also went to work for LaSalle Community Hospital working in its lab drawing blood. I did that for a couple of years.”

Trying other careers, Freeman worked in a machine shop, and as a vehicle fabricator and forklift driver. He also had a side business as a metal scrapper.

“It was all good experience that has come in handy over the years,” he said.

Also during this time, Freeman fulfilled his commitment s a part-time citizen soldier with the Illinois Army National Guard by serving as a medic to one of its aviation units. During his six-year enlistment, he went on several overseas deployments including to Iraq and Kuwait.

As time went on, Freeman became more and more involved in his volunteer work with his local ambulance service. He further enhanced his skill level by earning an EMT Intermediate certification.
“I was an EMT Intermediate for 10 years,” he said. “I already knew a lot of paramedic skills, but I didn’t have the license for it. Then five years ago, I went full time into emergency medical services by taking a job with Duffy’s Ambulance Service in Pontiac, Ill.”

To further upgrade his skills and qualifications, Freeman decided to become a qualified paramedic. He took a year-long course of instruction through a local hospital and fulfilled the requirement for 400 hours of practical experience. He passed the Illinois state test to become a licensed paramedic four years ago.

“Before moving to Colorado last year, I did the practical and testing to earn my national certification as a paramedic,” he said.

In April 2014, Freeman moved to Colorado with his wife Stefanie and their daughter Michelle, who is a fourth grader this year, and their son Alex, a second grader.

“We had decided we wanted to move, and we already had some family living here in Colorado,” he said. “Before we left Illinois, I found the paramedic position in Morgan County, but we decided that we wanted to live in Limon after we did a Google Earth virtual tour of the town.”
Their decision to live in Limon was a good one, Freeman said.

“We felt welcomed from the first day we moved here,” he said. “We really like this community and its people. It’s like no place I’ve ever been. And the Limon Ambulance Service is very progressive, open to new ideas and has good people.”

When not working, Freeman said he enjoys camping, working on old vehicles and spending time with his family.

“And I love doing handyman stuff,” he said. “I love building things.”

Freeman has put his handyman skills to work for the Limon Ambulance Service by volunteering to build a storage area and stairway inside the LAS ambulance barn. At present, he is working with Bill Givens, an EMT, to design and construct a Mass Casualty Trailer that will help LAS respond to major disasters.

On top of everything else, Freeman is a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association.
“We’ve been holding these CPR classes here in Limon as needed,” he said. “If you or your organization wants that class, contact Rob Handley, the LAS director, and we’ll set it up.”

1 comment:

  1. Doug Daryl and I are very proud of you. Keep up the good work, now I'm not happy you guys moved away from me. I know you did what was best for your family and the work you are doing, well okay. Keep p the good work.
    Love you guys