Updated: Apr 14
American Medical Rescue Field Supervisor Jeff Boyd will be recognized in Washington, D.C., this month for his expertise and dedication to providing emergency medical care. (Photo by Roger Sims, Linn County Journal)
CENTERVILLE – The Linn County ambulance station in Centerville is a solitary outpost for the three field supervisors for American Medical Rescue (AMR), which provides the county’s ambulance service.
The field supervisors respond to ambulance calls all over the county, but their presence in western Linn County is critical. With the two-person crews stationed in La Cygne and Pleasanton, it is the supervisors who are first on the scene in the Parker, Centerville and Blue Mound area, and their knowledge is crucial for a quick reaction to a medical emergency.
For Field Supervisor Jeff Boyd, that knowledge comes from years in the field, both as an emergency medical services technician for the county and his service in the U.S. Air Force.
Boyd was recently nominated by AMR Operations Manager Galen Anderson to receive the annual Stars of Life Award, a national award given by the American Ambulance Association, a national EMS association. He has been selected by the association to receive the award and will travel to Washington, D.C., later this month to be recognized.
Anderson told the Linn County Commissioners last week that the award is given to outstanding emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics who are on the frontline and are engaged in patient care day in and day out.
Anderson said that there are thousands of nominees from across the United States. The nomination forms which are fairly extensive and lengthy consider the person’s history, their achievements, their contributions to the community they serve and things like that.
“They spend a few days at the Capitol. It is a pretty prestigious honor,” said Anderson. There are actually two AMR paramedics from the state of Kansas that were recognized, Boyd and another paramedic from Dodge City, said Anderson.
Anderson told the commissioners that Jeff Boyd has been serving here in the county for about 13 years since AMR started the partnership here and he has really just been the backbone of the operation, spending years building ties with the community and with fellow first responders, sheriff’s department, dispatch center and the fire department.
In an interview, Boyd was very modest about his accomplishments.
“I don’t know why he (Anderson) put my name in. There are so many good medics here,” he said. He went on to say that half the people on his shift deserve the honor more than he does.
But in hearing his story, the listener understands why the choice was made.
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Boyd was very interested in emergency medicine shows as a child. “I wanted to be a paramedic since I was a little kid,” he said. He recounted sitting through the variety show “Hee Haw,” waiting until “Emergency!,” a show about fictional paramedic unit, came on. It was his favorite show.
Immediately after graduating from high school he joined the Air Force and eventually signed up for Independent Duty Medical Technician (IDMT) school. Boyd said the training he received as an IDMT was very extensive, much like that required to be a physician's assistant.
As an IDMT, he was stationed in remote areas of the world and was assigned to provide health services for about 400 service members in those regions. The assignments were so remote that he was trained to handle all manner of situations, including dental care and public health issues. His assignments took him to places like India, Bangladesh, The Philippines, and Mongolia.
He said he always tried to absorb the flavor of the culture of those posts, particularly the local beers. His favorite to this day is a beer from Sri Lanka.
As an Air Force IDMT, he was trained in dealing with trauma, particularly when it came to treating young men. However, he found that, following his retirement from the Air Force in July 2007 and immediately joining the AMR team a month later, those skills in dealing with trauma carried over in treating patients of all ages.
His supervisor recognized that he was very adept at his job. When another supervisor’s position opened up in April 2008, he didn’t think he had the experience enough with the company to apply. However, his supervisor submitted Boyd’s name and he landed the job.
With all of that experience in working in remote foreign outposts, working in a fairly desolate rural location is nothing new to him.
“This is a perfect spot for a paramedic who has all the tools,” he said. That list of tools includes a Ford Expedition Max that can hold the supplies and instruments and supplies that he needs as well as being large enough to carry a stretcher.
He said that the state doesn’t allow AMR to transport patients in the large four-wheel-drive vehicle, it is ideal when the location is off road and can’t be reached easily with an ambulance.
While his military training at handling trauma has proved invaluable in both training and experience, he said that part of the emotional shell he developed in the service is beginning to fade away as he gets older. Saying he has grown more as an emotional being since working in Linn County, he admits that some tragic scenes the ambulance crews respond to can be difficult to process at the end of a call-out.
AMR has stationed its three supervisors at the Centerville post for a reason. When the two-person ambulance crews from La Cygne and Pleasanton are called out, the field supervisor meets them at the scene.
That is particularly important in the western half of the county where there once was no ambulance service nearby. Boyd credits former Commissioner Mike Page of Parker for working to get ambulance service there.
Having a supervisor in Centerville allows AMR to have a well-trained EMS technician on the scene well before the ambulance from the eastern part of the county arrives. So treatment can begin relatively quickly. AMR measures its response time to the western areas as an average of the arrival time of the supervisor and the arrival time of the ambulance.
Boyd credits recent AMR managers with helping the Linn County service get better. “We’ve been nothing but improving,” he said.
But he also credits the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and the county firefighters for making first-responder services so successful.
“I’ve never seen deputies work so hard with firefighters and the ambulance,” he said. “They are always asking what they can do.” He add that all first responders look at what they can do to help in an emergency situations.
That goes both ways. He said often when AMR crews are standing by at the scene of a fire, he and his coworkers have helped manage hoses for firefighters. For most of the first-responders, it is a mindset, he said. “It’s a calling, not a job.”
“It’s a blessing to work in Linn County as a first-responder,” Boyd said. “I never want to leave working here.” He added he wants to stay until he retires.
Boyd is looking forward to his trip to Washington, D.C. He said his wife will be able to make the trip with him, and he hopes they can take some time to visit some of the Smithsonian museums while they are there.