MONROE, CT — Monroe’s emergency medical service volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, from their ages to their occupations. The Monroe Sun will run profiles to introduce you to a few during National EMS Week.
Christopher Sage has been an emergency medical technician with the Monroe Volunteer Emergency Medical Service for over 35 years.
Why did you join the MVEMS?
Sage: Back in 1985 the company my wife and I worked for was opening a new building and in that company there used to be a nurse on staff. The company was worried the new facility would have no medical care so they asked if anyone would like to train to be an EMT.
They found several EMT courses that were going on and we selected the one in Monroe since it wasn’t far from where we were living in Fairfield. The class was great and Lucille our instructor was wonderful! We both became certified right after the class.
We so enjoyed the people in the class and the people in the service, we joined MVEMS right away. We would do shifts together on a Sunday morning and just loved it here.
When it came time to sell our starter home in Fairfield we only considered moving to one place — Monroe. We have been here now for 33-plus years and it is just such a great town and MVEMS has been a great experience.
To think that had my job not looked for someone to get medical training I might have taken a completely different path!
You’ve also been teaching here for a long time; how did that get started?
Sage: Just around the time my wife and I joined the service, they were looking for CPR instructors. We both took the course and became CPR instructors so we could help teach other members and people in the community.
Shortly thereafter the main EMS instructor was going to retire and they wanted some people to step up and take on training EMTs. I took the course with another gentleman and together we started doing the training of EMTs and MRTs.
Others joined along the way and I have to give a shout out to the late Marge Brenna who joined after I did. She was a true inspiration and mentor to me in training, and in particular CPR classes, and became a very dear friend.
What keeps you doing EMS after all these years?
Sage: Honestly I’m not sure! I am the longest continuously serving member the service has ever had. EMS is not that old, starting in town in 1977, so I started when it was just nine years old.
I think the first thing that kept me going was the people in the service, the friends I have made along the way, some that will be friends for life. Spending time with people you enjoy being with makes the years go by awfully fast.
I enjoy the new folks the most, their energy, their enthusiasm, their desire to learn, the way they dive right in to help people they don’t even know. I am also still doing this because I like giving back to my community, helping people in need – sometimes on the worst day of their lives, and to teach new people to do the same.
EMS is a young field and it is constantly changing and, as I get older, it gets more difficult to keep up with all the changes, new equipment, and different protocols, but as long as I can still manage to stay up-to-date I guess I can keep doing this “job”.
What do you find most gratifying about your time with EMS?
Sage: Obviously helping people who could be having the worst day of their lives. Bringing them some comfort, some caring, and helping them through whatever is happening is very fulfilling.
Lately, my gratification comes from training others. I rarely enter an EMS room or event where someone doesn’t say “Chris taught me to be an EMT,” whether through classes or on the rig as a trainer – there have been so many!
It truly has become a passion. EMS and caring for people became such a passion that after over a decade as an EMT, I left my information technology career and became a nurse. For the last several years I have been teaching nurses along with still teaching EMTs and now people say “Chris taught me to be a nurse!”
I love teaching, instilling that passion for healthcare whether it be pre-hospital, in hospital, or elsewhere in the system. It is just so rewarding. I have taught EMT’s, but also paramedics, nurses, physicians assistants, doctors, advanced practice nurses and leaders in the medical field.
I’m not sure there is anything more gratifying than that. I’ve taught so many CPR classes both for the lay rescuer and for medical people that I’m sure some of those people have used that skill to save a life. Does anyone get a better legacy in life than that?
I’ll bet a lot has changed in over 35 years! What would you say was the most significant thing that is different?
Sage: I’ll say a lot has changed! We used to be housed in an electrical closet in the lower level of Town Hall, sharing space with the police department. We had two ambulances and no paramedics back in the day and what we could do in the field was limited.
It was amazing when we moved to the fire station on Jockey Hollow Road with all that space. It was also a big change when we added a paramedic full time in the service rather than waiting for one to respond from Bridgeport.
We can now do so much more on scene and enroute to help people and improve survival. We now have three ambulances, a fly car, the paramedic vehicle and so many more calls than when I started.
I honestly think, though, that what hasn’t changed is the most important. People still need help and we still need people to help them and I don’t think that will ever change.
Monroe Volunteer EMS has a big year ahead of us; we will be opening our beautiful, renovated facility this fall and will be able to welcome our community in for training classes, including EMT or EMR classes, CPR and Stop the Bleed classes.
What would you say to someone wondering whether they could be a member of the EMS?
Sage: We’d love for you to be a part of our team! People from all walks of life are part of our service. We have ages from high school students to retirees, and everything from stay at home moms to CEO’s volunteering with us.
We’ll give you the training you need to make a difference, while making deep friendships and connections.
Interested in becoming an MVEMS member? Send an email to [email protected].