Recognized May 22 at the Georgia Association of Emergency Medical Services awards banquet in Forsyth, the Bartow County deputy coroner and Redmond Regional EMT said the emergency medical services community helped shape him professionally.
“The state of Georgia has so many great and dedicated professionals. I have looked up to so many of these folks and have learned so much from them. I have been blessed to be around some great medics and educators in my career. Because of these professionals, I am the medic I am today,” Irish said. “EMS professionals are very special people. The work long hours and spend a lot of time training so they can take care of the citizens in their time of need. These professional are very dedicated to their jobs and they make a difference in the community every day.”
The toll the job takes on EMS personnel is one aspect the public may never see.
“Paramedics make a life-long commitment to taking care of others in their time of need. Paramedics are left with great memories and opportunity to help, but you also have lifelong consequences to this career choice that affect you physically, emotionally and spiritually,” Irish said. “I think sometimes EMS professionals get left behind when it comes to [posttraumatic stress disorder] and these professionals go untreated. EMS sees the worst of the worst and it can take its toll.”
The Cartersville resident became an EMT in 1997 before gaining his paramedic certification in 1999. He worked with Bartow County EMS for roughly 14 years before going to Redmond Regional.
“I have always wanted to be a paramedic. When I was a kid I would watch the show ‘Emergency’ and all I could think about is growing up to be a paramedic. I would see an ambulance running emergency to a call and all I could think about was one day that will be me in that ambulance making a difference in someone’s life,” Irish said. “What do I get out of my job? I get to make a difference in someone’s life on a daily basis. It may be a life-saving treatment or just hold the hand of a small child that is scared and in a bad situation. I think emergency workers in general forget, at times, that just because it’s not a life-or-death call it’s still an emergency to someone.”
Looking ahead, Irish hopes to make a difference in the lives of others, specifically children.
“In my career I have seen so many sick and injured children. I have seen the worst of the worst. EMS and first responders are on the front line of these type of cases,” he said. “I joined the team at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to teach child abuse. This class is designed to help EMS and all first responders on how to recognize all aspects of child abuse, how to report it to the proper people and how to document child abuse in their reports. I am also mentoring children at the Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter and trying to make a difference in some of these children’s lives. I’m also interested in getting my certification in crisis debriefing. I think being proactive in debriefing after traumatic calls will help the first responders deal with these situations and help them be mentally healthy.
“The last thing is EMS is a very demanding job and requires a lot of hours away from home. Having a good support system at home is so important. Our families are often without us on holidays and for extended time. Our families are so important to us and to the success of our careers.”