Paul Callicott gives back as a firefighter
ADDISON — One of the youngest members of Town Line First Response is Paul Callicott, who hails from Charlotte, N.C. Paul moved here six years ago to be with Karen, a native Vermonter; the two run the Briggs Dairy Farm in Addison. The farm has been in the family since Karen’s great-grandfather started it around 1920.
Paul Callicott joined the Addison Fire Department in November 2013, thinking he could help the community. He remembers an emergency call he went to in 2015. An infant with a feeding tube had aspirated and he had to stand by helplessly with the baby’s parents while waiting for the ambulance. There was no EMT on the call. Paul had taken limited first aid training as part of his firefighting certification, but was not allowed to give oxygen or any other medical treatment, and the wait seemed forever. He signed up for EMT training and joined Town Line First Response soon afterward.
He finds 80-85 percent of emergency calls in Addison are for medical issues, and the increasing number of retirees living near the lake or staying in campgrounds in the town account for much of his work. There are elderly people with chronic conditions not well controlled, like heart and breathing problems that become emergencies. He has had diabetic emergencies, slip and fall incidents and narcotic overdoses that he had to treat by administering Narcan. Luckily his farm work schedule is flexible and he can respond to calls in his area quickly. Although he had taken a first aid course in elementary school, the EMT class was his first formal medical training. He did not find the course work difficult and says much of the class was common sense. He adds he is frustrated by some of the state protocols and frequent protocol changes handed down to first responders.
Car crashes happen anywhere, and he well remembers his first mass casualty incident, (where the number of victims is greater than the number of personnel) in Panton. Eight young people squeezed into a hatchback car were returning from collecting mussels at the lake. The driver lost control around a sharp curve on Goodrich Corners Road, skidding on gravel and rolling to throw half the vehicle occupants out of the car. All survived, but it eventually required all four responding firefighters, four ambulances (one from Vergennes, one from Middlebury and two from Charlotte) and three Town Line EMTs to handle the extrication, treatment on scene and transport to local hospitals for treatment of multiple fractures and other injuries.
Paul says he misses a few things since he moved to the Green Mountain State, like readily available take-out food from life in the suburbs, but he loves being in Vermont. He and Karen hope to raise their daughter, Clara, on their farm. He hopes his work as a volunteer makes a difference in Addison, and he plans to go on responding to both fire and EMS calls.
Has he ever personally saved a life? It is hard to know, because first responders often don’t learn what happens after a person goes to the hospital.
He encourages other people, particularly those who are young and healthy enough to sign up for training as EMT volunteers. Contact Ron Sunderland for more information through his office at Rosie’s, 388-7052.
Editor’s note: Writer Alice Grau is a volunteer EMT with Town Line First Response.
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