Friday, January 24, 2014
Paramedic Derrick Washington, 44, of Summerville has had many, many experiences in his 14 years as a medic. Some good, some bad, some amazing.
Originally from Pittsburg, he was a volunteer EMT after high school. He then joined the U.S. Air Force which is how he landed in Summerville.
“I was getting out of the military and they [DCEMS] are the first who called me … so here I am,” says Washington.
In the military he was trained in Hazmat, dive and rescue and water rescue.
At the University of Pittsburg studying Biology, medicine was always his goal, he says. Now, he sees his role a bit differently than he did as a hotshot young EMT.
“I stopped trying to understand what motivates people or to justify why they call us,” he says. “Now if I can get them from point A to point B, I’ve done my job.
“I discard all the drama and focus on the issue – cardiac, respiratory, whatever.”
And, he says, the job is routine now: “If you focus on the big picture, even though the people change and the situations are different, the bigger picture is routine.”
However, Washington has had some awful calls and a couple of miracles.
He briefly describes one call where a toddler pulled the cord of a crock pot and boiling liquid poured over him. The baby died from his injuries.
In the next breath, he tells about a call for abdominal pain. When he arrived, he found a 14-week old baby no larger than his hand just born to a mom who had no idea she was pregnant …she had been told she couldn’t have children.
Needless to say the parents were in shock and Washington was faced with a real dilemma. The baby was so tiny, he had only one layer of skin at that point and you could see right through it, says Washington, and none of the equipment on the ambulance was small enough. He couldn’t even put a heart monitor on the infant because the leads stick onto skin and this baby didn’t really have any.
So he put the monitor on mom and off they raced to the hospital where they were met outside by neonatal staff.
“We did next to zero for that baby, outside of a lot of diesel. I just ran into that little boy and his mother the other day,” smiles Washington. “He is healthy and happy and growing fast. And he is an absolute miracle.”
Of course some of that may be due to Washington’s attitude. “I expect them all to live,” he says. “Come in my truck alive and you will leave it alive!”
The father of three – to Zaria, 14, and Alexis, 13, who live on Pawleys Island; and Queston, 13, who lives with his dad in Summerville – works the 12-hour truck which enables him to spend dad-time with Queston.
He enjoys sports – basketball and watching football – and spending time with his kids.
“I spend a lot of time reading middle school books,” he says, “so I can help with homework.”
He likes to go out to eat more than he likes to cook.
He coaches Little League and really enjoys working with young people.
His work goal is simply to help those who need help.
“I like the idea of just helping people. I don’t need to be a supervisor. I go home at the end of each day and I can say, ‘I helped five people today.’ ”
However, if the opportunity presents itself, he might be interested in taking a critical care course or perhaps going back to school of LPN or maybe RN.
His life goal is equally as simple.
“When you quantify or qualify success … well, things don’t have to be monetary to qualify as success. For me, if I can somehow impact society in a good way to hopefully make a good path for my kids …”