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County Hall Corner: Emergency Excellence in Action

My father was a fireman for over fifty years, and some of my earliest memories was waking up in the middle of the night hearing the extremely LOUD klaxon alarm that alerted the local firemen that a fire was in progress. If it was nearby, I would even sneak out of the house to watch those willing to respond and risk their lives to help others.

Today, emergency operations and practices are much, much more highly developed, and that goes for the training as well.

In the past, much of the learning was simply on-the-job training, learning by watching and then doing. Since then, emergencies have become more difficult, and they deal with obstacles and challenges that did not exist so many years ago.

For example, auto accidents, especially with electric cars, can easily result in fires, and these lithium battery fires are tremendously difficult to deal with. Emergency responses to drug overdoses, particularly fentanyl, can be extremely difficult because of the uncontrollable condition of the patient. At the worst extreme, we should never forget the 343 firefighters in New York City who lost their lives because of responding to the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Lycoming County is very fortunate to have several well-trained and devoted emergency responders and an infrastructure that protects our community.

At the Lycoming County Commissioners Meeting on Thursday, May 23rd, there was a proclamation for Emergency Medical Services Week. It was appropriate that after the readings of this proclamation, there was an award presentation by the EMS Program Manager Director for Lycoming County William Miller recognizing three outstanding individuals.

The Lycoming County Rescue Technician of 2023 was Lee Arbogast. He is a critical member of Rescue Task Force 80, and his knowledge and skills have been incremental in three recent emergencies. One was at the Worlds End State Park, where Arbogast helped airlift to a trauma center an individual had fallen at the falls. In another situation, Arbogast’s knowledge of trails helped locate a missing person who was in distress at the Water Authority in Bastress Township.

The Lycoming County Paramedic of 2023 was Shane Newvine, a Jersey Shore EMS. This individual has been a paramedic in this region for many years, and all the hats Newvine wears are vital in Tactical EMS and instructing many providers in our region.

Last but certainly not least of these three exceptional emergency responders is the Lycoming County EMT of 2023, Casey Parker, from the Clinton Township Fire Company.

Given that I am a member of this company, I personally know how much this man deserves this prestigious award.

For example, in the past few months, Casey was instrumental in using life-saving treatment on three cardiac arrest patients, resulting in their full recovery. I have been on ambulance runs with Casey, and even on routine runs, I am always amazed at his professionalism, no matter how big or small the emergency might be.

What makes this award even more significant is the fact that seven years ago, Casey Parker was just happy to be accepted into our fire company. He had some very painful health problems that unfortunately led him to one bad decision on his part. It was actually a turning point for him, but unfortunately, he was kicked off the train he was riding on. It seemed that no one trusted him, and no one wanted to work with him. Chief Todd Winder saw the potential in this man and invited him to Clinton Township’s Station 12. I remember the meeting that night seven years ago when Casey shared his troubles and was hoping for a second chance. The vote that night to accept him was unanimous.

Since then, he has proven himself in a thousand different ways. He often took on projects that no one else wanted to do. Every spare minute he had was at the fire company station. He was (and still is) the ‘go-to’ guy that many of the members turn to for answers about activities or upcoming events.

And his service has been extraordinary. Casey Parker has proven to be an outstanding EMT and has worked his way up the ladder from one position to the next in the past seven years. In January of this year, he was voted Assistant Chief for the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Company, essentially the vice president of our company.

Our county should be proud of the caliber of our first responders. This year marks the 50th anniversary of National EMS Week, and Lycoming County is fortunate to have outstanding individuals like Rescue Technician Lee Arbogast, Paramedic Shane Newvine, and EMT Casey Parker. They certainly deserved to be recognized for their outstanding service. As Lycoming County’s EMS Program Manager Director William Miller shared at that recent commissioner’s meeting, we must stay focused on the road ahead, evolving, innovating, and ensuring that EMS has the support needed to continue to answer the public’s call for help when it’s most needed.