PAIR EARNS STAR OF LIFE RECOGNITION PARAMEDICS HONORED IN D.C.
STEVENSON RANCH -- Two paramedics who responded to a help call from the Gulf Coast were honored last week in the nation's capital, recipients of the Star of Life award from the American Ambulance Association.
Within five days of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, American Medical Response, the ambulance company serving much of the North County, sent 1,000 paramedics and emergency medical technicians to the devastation in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Palmdale resident Matt Troupe drove one of a fleet of 30 ambulances loaded with medical supplies and equipment, food and water.
Greg Jelin of Stevenson Ranch was part of the group that flew into Baton Rouge to help first responders who had been victims themselves or were trying desperately to keep up with the crisis.
``It's easy to move people, but harder to get vehicles down there,'' Troupe said. ``As we were pulling up, paramedics there who were stuck with no rigs were ready to take ours and hit the road.''
``We dealt with a lot of cleanup injuries,'' Jelin said. ``We would camp out at what they used for fire stations, where there was still no power or water. If people could get to us, we Troupe, who has been a paramedic for 12 years, is married and has three children. He works out of the Victorville office of AMR.
He started out studying fire service after high school and, in the process, had to become an EMT.
``I found out then that I loved the medical field, loved working with people and doing problem solving,'' he said. ``It's like a bug that bites you, to be able to provide calm and order to a bad situation.
``When someone calls the paramedics, most of the time, they just need someone to be there and hold their hand, tell them everything is going to be OK when their whole world falls apart.''
As a volunteer with his church, Troupe has also been a chaplain with the California Department of Corrections, providing counseling to prison inmates.
Jelin, 36, started out as an EMT with Newhall Ambulance before the company was absorbed into AMR. His wife of almost two years is the assistant principal of a San Fernando Valley high school.
``It was kind of accidental,'' he said of his career choice. ``I was studying premed, with the goal of being a pediatrician. While I was at Pierce College, I filled one of my general education requirements with an EMT class, which I really enjoyed. That's when I fell in love with the whole job.''
He transferred to the University of California, Irvine, and won an internship with an ambulance company. His training officer recommended him for a job and he was hired on the spot.
With a 10-day-a-month (24-hour shifts) work schedule, he was able to transfer to UCLA and complete his bachelor's degree in biology. He's even put his time in at the head of the class, teaching the EMT class at College of the Canyons.
``Some people are suited to an office job, but some people, like firefighters and cops and paramedics, well, they just have to be outside,'' he said. ``It's a physical job and there are a lot of hardships, but I absolutely love it.
``As an experienced paramedic, I don't get the adrenaline rush that much any more, but to have the opportunity five, 10 or 15 times a day to go into someone's home on what is probably the worst day of their life -- people usually only call 911 once or twice in their lives -- and help them, that's worth everything to me.
``We see people on the worst days of their lives and make a difference.''
Jelin, who works out of AMR's Moorpark office, also has been active with search-and-rescue teams from the Los Angeles police and Ventura County sheriff's departments. He's scaling back some of his activities to accommodate his newlywed and new homeowner status.
``And the fact that I'm getting a little older,'' he said, laughing.
(1) Greg Jelin of Stevenson Ranch was one of 100 paramedics to receive the Star Of Life award last week.
(2) Star of Life recipient Greg Jelin lets drivers know exactly what he does with a personalized license plate. Jelin discovered his passion for the profession while in college.
John Lazar/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||May 15, 2006|
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