Pat Anderson has seen quite a bit since he started working in emergency medical services in 1972.
Some of them were deadly serious, making split-second medical decisions in the days before paramedics were taking numerous certification courses and receiving basic first aid and CPR training.
Some of them affected his ability to work well, especially the huge radio he had to carry decades ago as a team leader.
“With those big X-rays, you could almost break and end up in your own ambulance,” said Anderson, 80, of Murrysville.
And some of them were just plain funny, like the paramedic Anderson once interviewed whose only question about the job was whether or not they should wear underwear.
“She was a very good paramedic,” he laughed.
Anderson retired Aug. 18 after 50 years in the emergency department. It started with the former volunteer ambulance service Rescue 4, which formed in 1970. It became Murrysville Medic One in 1978. Anderson served as a paramedic, team leader and board member for both groups.
Anderson and Murrysville Medic One spokesman Matt Stromberg said a lot has changed since Anderson performed his first ambulance ride. To begin with, he used to keep the ambulance at his house. There was no certification for paramedics.
“You’ve done first aid, CPR training and that’s it,” he said.
Stromberg said that at that time the prevailing motto for emergency services was “pick up and go” – the idea being to get a patient to the hospital as quickly as possible for the best medical treatment available.
“Now, even though it sounds terrible, the thinking is ‘stay and play’ – we have so much more equipment on the ambulances now, and they are in immediate contact with our medical command at UPMC Presbyterian which is fully staffed. time by ER doctors. So our teams are now going to stabilize a patient, start pushing meds and stuff, where in the beginning it was, ‘We have to get out of here to get to the hospital “, because it is the only place where the treatment was done.
Anderson remembers sometimes coming home from his job at Westinghouse Electric to start an EMT shift.
“I worked with a guy from Trafford, and he would pick me up at the train tracks along Murrysville Road,” Anderson said. “Sometimes I’d still get dirty from work, but you did, because we didn’t have enough guys.”
Anderson and Stromberg said that if it hadn’t been for female volunteers, Murrysville Medic One wouldn’t be what it is today.
“During the day, a lot of guys were working and a lot of women were volunteering and maintaining the base during the day,” Stromberg said.
For several years, Anderson worked three jobs: one at Westinghouse, one as an EMT, and one as an Auxiliary Police Officer in Murrysville.
For the past several years, Anderson has been a familiar face at the Mother of Sorrows pantry, where he volunteers to check customers’ vital signs and blood pressure, yet another addition to his legacy of community service.
“The best part is the people I’ve worked with and my wife, Sherry, who has made it possible for me to do this all these years,” he said.