New Lowell, MI, EMS Chief to Merge Fire, EMS Agencies

May 27, 2024
Irene Malamatos is bringing Tri-Creek EMS into the Lowell Fire Department and she will oversee the transition.

May 25—LOWELL — Irene Malamatos became the first Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services at the Lowell Fire Department at the beginning of April.

Malamatos, who started in 2016, was the first female officer at the Lowell fire station.

The station has the highest ratio between women and men since being created in the mid 1800s, Fire Chief Chris Gamblin said. Currently the station has six women.

Malamatos attributes this to a shift in culture with the new generation of firefighters.

"Don't compare yourself to anyone else and throw your heart into it," Malamatos said. "Your capabilities on this job are all going to come down to the heart you have for it. So you throw your heart and soul into it. You'll be able to do anything at this job in this career."

Malamatos' position is unique because it combines the Tri-Creek EMS, a standalone agency, with the fire department. This has never happened before even though the two work closely together.

The station covers the area from the Kankakee River to Cedar Lake, Gamblin said.

With already such a large area, the population is also increasing and the call volume has changed. Before they had maybe one or two calls a year where they had to take care of a patient but now it happens almost weekly, Gamblin said.

Malamatos, in the new position, is in charge of combining Tri-Creek EMS and the fire department. With leadership over both sides operations and patient care tactics will be the same and more streamlined.

Malamatos works a full 24 hour shift every three days as an EMT and on other days she works on more administrative duties or is on call.

To handle such a stressful job, Malamatos said she has to completely trust her team.

"This is an active job, this job is not stopping. We're constantly doing something," Malamatos said. "So while I'm handling either administrative duties, or if I'm on a call, no matter what I'm doing, whatever task I'm handling, I still have to trust that the other people that are also completing the job, are doing what they need to do."

Malamatos said she really enjoys leading people and her favorite part of the job is the teamwork.

"Every day is different," Malamatos said. "It is very fulfilling."

Along with combining EMS and fire fighting, Malamatos is also working on getting other projects off the ground.

One of these projects is creating a large animal rescue team. The idea started when Malamatos' horse was unable to stand up on its own so she had to call the fire department to help save her horse.

Now a veterinarian works with the fire department and they are working on getting a trailer for larger animals because Lowell is a rural community.

"Hopefully one day she'll replace me as fire chief," Gamblin said.


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