Butler County Times Gazette
  • Longtime EMS  director retires after 35 years

  • Randy Easter carries the years of overwork, stress and worry in his whole countenance — in his far off meditative gaze, his kind voice and his worn, pale hands that have saved so many lives.
    • email print
  • Randy Easter carries the years of overwork, stress and worry in his whole countenance — in his far off meditative gaze, his kind voice and his worn, pale hands that have saved so many lives.
    EMS personnel have hard lives. They sacrifice time with their families to be there with other families in the community at often the worst times in their lives.
    Easter, 62, has lived that life for more than 35 years, retiring recently as the director of McPherson EMS.
    “I’ve had the privilege to deliver babies and also been there during some more tragic times,” Easter said. “People trust in us and allow us to do what we do.
    “It is hard to let lose a bunch of people to come in your house, but I feel a real honor that the people have let me do that.”
    Easter was even called to help his own family. He remembered with great sadness being called to the death of his own father-in law.
    Easter drew in a deep breath, paused for a moment with eyes near tears, but choose to focus on the lives he was able to save.
    Drawn to serve
    Easter said he was drawn to public service because of his desire to care for the people of his community.
    He began as a police officer for the McPherson Police Department in 1972. He worked with the Department for eight years.
    Easter was influenced by the Vietnam War, which was still ongoing when he was in school. President Johnson wrote a paper that noted there were more people being killed on U.S. public roads than in Vietnam. Easter was seeing new trauma technology and philosophies on the popular  TV show “Emergency” that in part had come out of the work medic crews had done in the war.
    About the same time he felt he was being called to be a paramedic, the first paramedics squad was being formed in Sedgwick County.
    “I wanted to provide the same level of care to the people in McPherson that they would get if they would go to Wichita and get hurt,” Easter said.
    In 1978, he began work part time with the Memorial Hospital Ambulance Department.
    With a wife and two young daughters at home, Easter quit his job at the police department in 1980, took his police retirement and went to paramedic school in Hutchinson for a year. It was a long year for the young man and his family, Easter said, but he finally was certified as the first Emergency Mobile Intensive Care Technician in McPherson.
    In the field
    Easter was equipped with a small jump kit with bandages and medicine and was on call to do critical care transfers. Before Easter’s arrival, EMS staff could not give medicines, monitor the heart or shock the heart.
    Page 2 of 3 - “It was most exciting to go out for the first time and use my skill,” he said.
    After a while a class was paramedics class was organized at McPherson Hospital for new EMS staff. Still staffs were small, and Easter often worked as many as 72 hours at a time.
    “I have spent many sleepless nights,” he said. “It is a very physically and mentally demanding job. Nationwide EMS staff have problems with sleep deprivation for up to 24 hours.”
    Difficult rescue
    One of Easter’s more bizarre calls was an impalement on the highway. A piece of plastic came off a boat that was being pulled by a vehicle, went through another vehicle into the driver, through the driver and into the back seat. The EMS crew had to cut the two ends of the piece of plastic to get the driver out of the vehicle, sat him up on the stretcher with part of the plastic  still protruding and sent the patient off to a hospital in Wichita.
    Danger on the road
    Dr. Tyler Hughes, a surgeon in McPherson for more than 19 years, spoke of Easter’s uncommon bravery and commitment to his patients.
    Hughes sometimes responded to calls with Easter to consult or assist EMS in his early years in McPherson. EMS had responded to a truck accident. The patient was pinned. Hughes had been called to determine if the patient’s legs need to be amputated. The man’s legs were saved.
    However, as the two men watched other EMS personnel working on the patient inside the over-turned cab of the truck, Hughes noticed a couple of firefighters had hoses trained on them. He asked Easter about this.
    He calmly replied, “That is in case the truck blows up.”
    Lives saved
    Easter said he knows the work has been worth it when he sees a family member of patient who was in an accident and they thank him or someone who was critically sick or injured and now is walking around and active in the community.
    Easter recalls a particular heart patient his EMS crew recently assisted. The patient had no pulse and was not breathing.
    The patient’s wife and then EMS personnel performed cerebral cardio resuscitation on the patient in which compression are given continuously for the first few minutes.
    The patient has been able to recover without lasting effects, and Easter said he was pleased to see him recently outside working in his yard.
    Innovations in care
    There are two types of saves for a paramedic — a field save and a clinical save. The field save means the EMS crew gets the patient to the hospital alive. A clinical save means the patient is able to walk out of the door of the hospital. Cerebral cardio resuscitation has been able to increase the clinical save rate for heart attack patients from about 20 percent to 60 percent.
    Page 3 of 3 - Easter became the EMS director for McPherson in 1990. The cerebral cardio resuscitation is only one of the many innovations he has seen during his many years as a paramedic and paramedic director.
    Easter was a founding member for MERGe, which is a group of highly trained EMS personnel that have responded to disasters, including the Greensburg tornado, the Chapman tornado and flooding in Hutchinson.
    He helped start the cardiac rehabilitation program in the 1980s at McPherson Hospital, which eliminated the need for cardiac patients to travel to Wichita for rehab.
    In 2008 when McPherson Safe Kids was needing a sponsor agency, McPherson EMS under the direction of Easter took over as its sponsor agency.
    Although Easter has run fewer calls since he has been EMS director, he said he has probably run thousands of calls in his career.
    Transition
    He said it has been strange not constantly having to answer the phone or respond to a pager since his retirement earlier this month.
    He recently completed his master’s degree and has considered teaching. He would like to keep up his EMS certification, although he said he doubted he would be able to make it to oldest EMS license holder even with more than 30 years in the business.
    There are places he wants to go and things he wants to see, he says.
    But he said he does not regret the service he has given to his community.
    “My life has been about EMS,” he said. “People think about the car wrecks, but it is not all about car wrecks. It is about transporting the sick and injured. During those car wrecks and other things, people have let medics into their lives. I feel honored I could do that.”

        calendar