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Fry celebrates 40 years with LCEMS

Jul. 04, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

IRONTON -- Earl "Buddy" Fry has seen a lot of changes in emergency medicine in the past four decades.

Fry, 62, has worked for the now defunct Southeastern Ohio Emergency Medical Services and Lawrence County Emergency Medical Services for 40 years. He currently serves as director of the county Emergency Medical Services.

"I was working at the ambulance station in Rome Township the first day it opened," Fry said. "I had paramedic training in 1975 from (the late) Dr. Dean Massie and Dr. Burton Payne. Ohio didn't have legislation about paramedics and emergency medical technicians until 1976. They modeled the state program after ours."

The area got federal money to start the ambulance district. When the state of Ohio started certifying EMTs and paramedics, the ambulance district got the designation 0001, he said.

"I was certified to teach paramedics in 1976," Fry said. The state requires a minimum amount of continuing education every year and for emergency medical personnel to be recertified every three years, he said.

The Lawrence County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution naming June 23 as Earl "Buddy" Fry Day.

"The biggest change I've seen over the 40 years is in cardiac care," Fry said. "People are alive now who would have died 20 years ago."

Initially, the ambulance personnel would give a person suffering from chest pains oxygen. These days, emergency personnel can start an IV, give pain meds and do EKGs, Fry said.

"The things we do nowadays, we couldn't have dreamed of years ago," he said. "For the past two years, we've been using 15-lead EKGs instead of the standard 12. We've picked up three heart attacks with those extra three leads.

"We're also seeing a lot more bariatric patients," he said. "We've had to transport people weighing 600 or 700 pounds.

"We're also doing more with trauma cases," he said. Personnel make the call of whether to transport people with head or internal injuries from a car wreck to a local trauma center (either Cabell Huntington Hospital or St. Mary's Medical Center in Huntington), Fry said.

"We also have access to helicopters now," he said. "They call it the golden hour," Fry said. A patient's chance of surviving is enhanced exponentially in trauma cases if they get to a trauma center within an hour of an accident, he said.

The four decades in emergency medicine "has gone by fast," Fry said. "It doesn't seem like it's been 40 years."

Fry said he has no plans to hang it up anytime soon.

"There's still a lot to do," he said. "I'm responsible for budgets, personnel and training. I've been involved in all facets of emergency medical services."