1. #1
    Forum Member
    DaSharkie's Avatar
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    Jun 2000

    Default Another Reminder to Stay Safe

    Hey folks, I read this on the net today about one of my Paramedic instructors, and a former firefighter. Most of us know the dangers of the job, but just let this serve as a reminder or them, and the indominable spirit that exists in many of us when life turns to *****.

    In the City of Worcester there is 1 picture of a Paramedic in the 3 Emergency Departments. That picture is of John Lynch at Memorial Hospital.

    John has coded his own father while working, and contracted Hepatitis C from caring for a patient as a Paramedic, which led to his need for a liver, and then a kidney transplant. Since he can't work the streets any more, he still gives his all to EMS students.


    Incident changed his life forever
    Having faced death, teaching to save lives

    By Ellie Oleson CORRESPONDENT

    AUBURN — It’s been 26 years since paramedic John F. Lynch, 52, of Old Farm Road was infected with hepatitis C when a heroin addict bit him while he was saving her life.

    The incident changed his life forever, but did not stop him from teaching others to save lives.

    Mr. Lynch, who is president-elect of Auburn Youth and Family Services, grew up in Worcester’s Main South area. He is the son of Irish immigrants from County Kerry and has dual citizenship. He attended Cardinal Cushing Academy in West Millbury, until it closed his senior year.

    “We had no senior prom — nothing,” he said.

    When he was 18, he married Barbara Pietrewicz, moved to Leominster and witnessed the birth of his first child, Jessica. He joined the Leominster Fire Department in 1975, and started working at Leominster Hospital, where he studied to become an emergency medical technician.

    “I wanted to be able to take care of my kids. When I was training, Jessica had a convulsion. Barbara freaked out, but I knew exactly what to do. I knew then that I could respond appropriately to an emergency. I didn’t panic. I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life,” Mr. Lynch said.

    He moved his family back to Worcester in 1976, when he became an EMT at Worcester City Hospital.

    He studied at Northeastern University and became a paramedic, and his family grew to four children: Jessica, now a mother of three who teaches autistic children; Jeremy, an engineer; Jaclyn, who is studying to be a nurse; and Justin, who is in the military.

    It was in 1984 that Mr. Lynch answered two emergency calls that changed his life.

    The first was a 911 call from his mother, Eileen O’Donald Lynch. His father, Cornelius C. Lynch, had been electrocuted in the shower.

    “We tried to save him, but he was gone,” Mr. Lynch said.

    The second call started as an ordinary one.

    “It came in as a heroin overdose. She was not breathing, but had a pulse. I gave her Narcan — it blocks the effects of heroin. She woke up, angry that we had ruined her high, and bit me. She had an open sore and hepatitis C,” he said.

    Mr. Lynch and his first wife divorced, and in 1989, he married his “soul mate,” Nancy J. Pollock.

    “She gave me my two stepsons,” Mr. Lynch said. Norman Tisdell is a contractor for the U.S. Navy in Florida and Bobby Tisdell is in the communications industry in Pittsburgh.

    When City Hospital closed in 1991, Mr. Lynch joined the Emergency Medical Service at University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

    His health deteriorated, as the hepatitis attacked his liver, nearly killing him. He was forced to retire from the job he loved in 1997.

    “On December 18, 1997, I got a liver transplant. It was my new birthday. Thirteen years out, I’m doing great,” Mr. Lynch said.

    He attended the Transplant Olympics in 2003 at Walt Disney World and hopes to participate again.

    He has faced some setbacks. In 2003, his kidneys failed and he was forced to have dialysis. Worse, his wife was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Mrs. Lynch died in 2004, the year Mr. Lynch got a kidney transplant.

    “The kidney’s working great,” he said.

    He wears a green wristband to remind everyone to be an organ donor and a pink wristband for breast cancer awareness.

    Mr. Lynch will be hosting the annual EMS Nancy J. Lynch Golf Tournament at Quail Hollow in Oakham on June 13 to raise money for a scholarship. (Contact him at jlynch@qcc.mass.edu for information.)

    He visits his wife’s grave daily. He takes anti-rejection drugs for his liver and kidney, and has no sign of the hepatitis virus, though he is aware he could have a setback at any time. He is living his life, and working to share his knowledge.

    He has taught EMT courses and assisted with paramedic training for Quinsigamond Community College for 16 years. He is also on the board of directors for YOU Inc. in Worcester.

    Auburn Fire Chief William A. Whynot said he worked with Mr. Lynch on an ambulance at Worcester City Hospital a quarter century ago and has stayed in touch.

    “I teach the hazardous materials component to his students at Quinsig. His students are very fortunate. John is one of the best in the business,” Chief Whynot said.

    Mr. Lynch said, “The best teacher is experience, but you have to start somewhere.”

    He said he warns his students the most difficult “learning experiences” involve children. “Once or twice a year, a mom or dad will fall asleep with their baby in bed and smother them. It’s traumatic for the EMTs and paramedics. They never have time to process what happened. That’s why there used to be a high divorce rate and a lot of drinking,” Mr. Lynch said.

    He is still haunted by the memory of an emergency call involving a baby girl, who closely resembled his own daughter. In 1976, the baby was smothered with a pillow by her mother’s boyfriend for crying too loudly. Mr. Lynch went home and cried after that call.

    “I tell my students, you never know what you’ll face. Medics are on an emotional roller coaster. You have to deal with blood, brain matter, amputations, decapitations. If you can’t stand blood, you’re in the wrong profession,” Mr. Lynch said.

    To help first responders deal with the unthinkable, he serves on a Critical Incident Stress Management team of “responders helping responders.” Each team includes mental health, clergy, fire, police and EMS professionals.

    “I’m a coordinator of the Central Mass team. We help EMTs, fire and police who have to deal with emergencies. We sit down together and talk about the call. It’s not a critique. It just helps people deal with an abnormal situation. We help each other,” Mr. Lynch said.

    He is also an EMT and paramedic examiner for the state. He proudly said his students from Quinsigamond pass the practical portion of the test 99 percent of the time, but said only 80 percent pass the written portion.

    The first lesson he teaches is “BSI — body substance isolation.

    “Quite a few EMTs got hepatitis C. One paramedic in Boston got AIDS. We deal with blood. A lot of blood. I tell my trainees to make sure you have gloves on before you get there,” he said. “Fortunately, there’s more awareness. Training teaches you to be careful. Please, be careful.”
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  2. #2
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    whfd hems 930's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    Southwestern Harrison Co. TX


    A big tip of the leather to this man.
    Bill Davis
    West Harrison Fire Dept
    2009 Rookie of the Year
    IACOJ Rookie-We all gotta start somewhere

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by whfd930 View Post
    A big tip of the leather to this man.
    Agreed! Great read. Thanks for posting it!

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