- July 15, 2020
As a 14-year-old, Rick Strous was intensely interested in the fire service and serving his community. That interest and dedication has culminated, 50 years later, with him being named the Pennsylvania BLS Technician of the Year for 2019. Rick began his life-long involvement with the fire service in October 1969 as a member of Boy
As a 14-year-old, Rick Strous was intensely interested in the fire service and serving his community. That interest and dedication has culminated, 50 years later, with him being named the Pennsylvania BLS Technician of the Year for 2019.
Rick began his life-long involvement with the fire service in October 1969 as a member of Boy Scout Explorer Post 110, which was centered at the First Ward Company in South Williamsport.
“I guess you could say it looked like a neat thing to do, so that is why I got involved in it,” Rick told Webb Weekly. “As a kid, I just caught the bug of being in the fire service and all things related to it.”
During the period of 1970 and 1971, Rick got his CPR and first aid certifications. He started to ‘run’ with the American Legion Post 617 Ambulance Service, where he met my father, Lou Hunsinger Sr., who Rick cites as one the greatest influences on him.
There was a slight hiatus in Rick’s involvement in the fire service between 1973 and 1977 while he served in the United States Marine Corps.
After leaving the service, he, in 1979, completed one of the first EMT classes. In 1986 he moved to Old Lycoming Township and retook the EMT class due to his certification lapsing in the mid-1980s.
In May of 1986 he joined Old Lycoming Township Volunteer Fire Company. He holds a Life Membership for both First Ward and Old Lycoming fire companies. In 2010, he became an EMT instructor. He also has certifications as Firefighter 2, Vehicle Rescue, Confined Space, Trench, Ropes, and Fire Police. He has held the positions of Inspector, EMS Lieutenant, and presently EMS Captain.
In the early 2000s, he became an EMS Lieutenant and subsequently became an EMT Instructor in 2011. He is a member of the LTS EMS Strike Team and deployed to Hurricane Gustave in 2008.
For the past two years, he has served as Lycoming County EMS Council Vice President, and is presently serving as President.
It is these long years of service and dedication that prompted officials from the Lycoming, Tioga, Sullivan Counties Emergency Medical Services Regional Council to name Rick as its 2019 EMT of the Year. This award served as a precursor to him earning the statewide award in which each of the 14 regional EMS councils submit a person for the statewide award that he would receive.
Rick enjoys the widespread praise and respect of all those he has worked with over his 50 years of service. This is particularly so with the members of his present home fire company, the Old Lycoming Volunteer Fire Company.
In addition to being Lycoming County Coroner, and a flight nurse for Geisinger’s Life Flight, Chuck Kiessling, is the assistant chief at Old Lycoming Township, and he is unstinting in his praise of Rick.
“I have been involved in the Volunteer Fire Service since the mid-1970s. I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Captain Rick Strous in numerous capacities over many years,” Kiessling said. “Now, as I serve as Assistant Chief with OLTVFC, Captain Strous is a major asset to our EMS/Fire operations providing crews for many of our 911 and routine transports, assisting with maintenance of EMS equipment, and instructing CPR training for our personnel and the general public. Rick’s dedication and commitment to Emergency Medical Services is second to none and, therefore, the reason he has received the LTS and the PA EMS Award.”
Joe Hopple, Director of Emergency Services for Old Lycoming Township, has served for many years with Rick on the Old Lycoming Township Volunteer Fire Department, and he too feels that Rick is deserving of the award he has received.
“I think that Rick winning this award shows how well he is thought of by the EMS community,” Hopple said. “He is very deserving of the award he has received. He is very dedicated to serving the people of Old Lycoming Township, as well as the community as a whole. I think that he has been a tremendous asset to this fire company. He truly loves his community and serving it.”
Rick reflected on his years of service in EMS and fire service and what it has meant to him.
“What I get out of being an Emergency Medical Technician and being involved with the fire service is being able to help people and making a difference, hopefully for the good in their lives. Couldn’t have gotten this award without everyone working as a team, I don’t feel like I did anything special just doing my job, but someone felt otherwise,” Rick said.
“Hopefully, I can keep doing this for a few more years. A good EMT is someone who cares and always willing to learn new things.”
He was asked about the future of the Emergency Medical Services and said, “The future of EMS is going to be changing partly due to the shortage of people becoming EMTs and Paramedics due to low pay and long hours. What that change is, I am not sure at this point. The notable things that have happened are having a couple of persons be in cardiac arrest and then walking out of the hospital a week later.”
Men and women like Rick Strous are examples of the everyday heroes that help make each of the communities safe and sound through their involvement in the fire service and emergency medical system. Unfortunately, as time proceeds, there seem to be fewer and fewer people willing to step up and assume this role in their communities. We are lucky and blessed that people like Rick exist in our community.