SERVING THE COMMUNITY: Paramedic Joseph Pirkel
A graduate of Goose Creek High School in 2006, who also attended Summerville High, Paramedic Joseph Pirkel, 25, knew during his high school years that he liked serving he community.
Beginning as an Explorer with the fire department, after high school he went into fire service with the Summerville Fire Department.
“They gave us First Responder training and I took EMT Basic on my own and I liked the medical side so much,” he explains, “I transitioned over to EMS.”
He has been with DCEMS for four years.
He is trained in basic firefighting and has all his engineer’s certifications as well. But the majority of calls at SFD, he says, were medical and while working with EMS he saw what they do so he started working with them part time.
“I really enjoyed it,” he says, “it is a really good feeling to help someone…all the abilities we have as paramedics to do life saving interventions.”
But he says, “we see a lot of bad things – people who are hurt, ill, especially kids…we try not to let it get to us but pediatric deaths are really tough.”
However, “bringing someone back….”
“We had a pediatric case – two years ago – an arrest [cardiac] we brought the child back and that child is still okay today!”
Pirkel is married to Callie who is a deputy with the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office. They have two dogs – Charlie and Quincy – who are rescue dogs.
It’s tough though. “She works 12-hour shifts and I work 24/48 shifts – 24 hours on and 48 hours off – but we try and make the time to be with each other,” he says.
When he finds spare time he loves to play Alternate Frisbee – a Frisbee/football combo using a Frisbee instead of a football. He likes mountain biking and enjoys the trails at the Naval Weapons Station, Lake Moultrie and the county park.
He also enjoys boating on Lake Moultrie.
“But,” he says, “work takes a lot of time – one-third of my life.”
Part of that work is his position as coordinator/team leader of the Special Operations Team. This team provides paramedic/medical coverage for fires, Haz-Mat situations, rescues – it uses an ambulance utility truck that only carries equipment, not patients. They have extra training – they train monthly – to go into certain scenes such as low-lying entrapment, confined space rescue and rescues requiring ropes and cots, etc., to provide medical coverage.