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In a moment of crisis, paramedic James Doherty is the first line of defense. From his office in the back of an ambulance, Doherty works with other CoxHealth emergency medical technicians and paramedics to give patients the best chance possible.
“We are the front line and first point of access to definitive medical treatment,” Doherty says. “Ours is to provide the best professional medical care for the sick and injured, in addition to safe and rapid transport of our patients to the most appropriate medical facility.”
Doherty earned his EMT license in 1985 while working as a Wheaton Fire Protection District firefighter. He began his career with CoxHealth in 1993 when he was employed as an EMT in Cassville. In 2002, Doherty earned his paramedic license, in addition to field training officer certification, and began working in Christian County in 2008.
Doherty’s day is never dull. And while a big part of a paramedic’s job is advanced life support, not every call for EMS is an emergency. Sometimes it’s someone who simply needs assistance and doesn’t know where else to go. Doherty says he views this aspect of his job as that of an educator.
“Many times, I have heard from patients how they can’t find the care they need or they don’t feel they are being understood,” he says. “Sometimes it just takes a person with the right information to point them in the right direction. I try to be that person.”
While addressing the immediate physical needs of patients, Doherty also pays attention to underlying issues that often accompany a medical emergency.
“We must provide emotional support not only for the patient, but the family as well,” he says. “We must understand that this is a time of anxiety and fear of the unknown. With this in mind, it is important to try to ease their concerns with a calm, professional approach to the situation.”
He assumes responsibility for a patient’s well-being, from the start of a call to completion after transfer, to ensure a smooth continuum of care in the hospital.
“Above all, in my mind, I am the patient’s advocate into the emergency room,” he says. “This means I must give accurate, thorough reports that include my findings, observations, history, any patient/family concerns and being concerned that the patient enters the emergency room in the appropriate place.”
Being a community resource means keeping his skills sharp, and Doherty does this through continued education at seminars including World EMS.
“The education and skills that I learn at these events, I bring back for consideration to use in our own backyard,” he says.
Even when he’s not in uniform, Doherty still looks for ways to help his community. He often visits Springfield Public Schools to give education talks and rescues dogs in need to help find them new homes.
Doherty simply wants to improve and save the lives of those around him.
“When not in uniform,” he says, “I have no problems assisting those in need of my skill set that I come in contact with.”
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