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Ken Anderson: A Texas Paramedic in Maine


Ken Anderson - A Texas Paramedic in Maine

My name is Ken Anderson. Actually, my full name is Kenneth Frederick Anderson but I seldom use the whole thing. Ken Anderson is a fairly common name, and I’m sure you’ll come across a lot of us in life and on the Internet.

When asked to define myself, I will generally consider, but no longer say, that I’m a paramedic. Isn’t it strange how we so often identify ourselves by what we do for a living? I have been other things before I became a paramedic, and I am more than that now, but since I’ve been involved in emergency medical services since 1984, and a paramedic since 1986, it has become an important part of my identity, and remains so even when I've been out of the field since 2001.

I began my career in EMS after being recruited as a volunteer with the Community Ambulance Service in Los Fresnos, Texas. The EMT-Basic course cost $50.00 at that time. I was in the first class taught by a college in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, enrolling in the EMT program founded by Mr. Tom Scott, then of Texas Southmost College in Brownsville.

Shortly after completing the Basic course, I enrolled in an EMT-Special Skills (now EMT-Intermediate) class, following shortly after with the EMT-Paramedic program. The paramedic course cost $75.00.

Soon after certification as an EMT-Basic, I began assisting Tom with teaching his next program. Texas didn't have an EMS-Instructor certification at that time, and I was grandfathered into it sometime around 1986 or so. I also worked part-time on weekends with Harlingen EMS, mostly at their station on South Padre Island.

Shortly after certification as a paramedic, the City of Los Fresnos advertised for a full-time paramedic, to assist the volunteer ambulance and fire departments, particularly during the day when there was sometimes a shortage of volunteers, and to take on the official duties of Health Inspector. They were asking for someone with 5 years of experience so I didn't bother even applying until I learned that they were considering hiring someone who had graduated with me, thus having no more experience than I had. I applied, and was hired. I later took on the additional responsibilities of building inspector.

While working as EMS Director/firefighter/Health Inspector/Building Inspector, I continued to teach for Texas Southmost College, mostly teaching off-campus courses at the library in Los Fresnos. This served a dual purpose of helping to train our own volunteers.

I authored the KA_Soft line of EMS tutorials. I had a freeware set of EMT-Basic tutorials, covering the entire curriculum, a BTLS, and a PHTLS tutorial, as well as one for medical terminology. They were quite popular at the time, mostly circulated amongst the BBS networks that were popular before the Internet ruined everything.

I left Los Fresnos to take a job with a larger EMS company in the McAllen/Mission area, serving as training officer for Catalina Ambulance Service from 1990-1992, long enough to help upgrade their level of service from Basic to Mobile Intensive Care Unit. In 1992, I was hired as program chairman of the Emergency Medical Technology program at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen and McAllen.

In 1996, for reasons that are no longer clear to me, I opted not to renew my contract and took most of a year off, working on my software and putting in a few days a week as a paramedic with Los Fresnos EMS, now owned and operated by the City. After more than 7 months of that, I accepted a job with Advanced Cardiac and Trauma EMS in Edcouch-Elsa, later buying in as a partner and Co-Director with Ricardo Vaiz. I am very proud of the work we did, and of the service we provided to the Delta Area of Texas. I was very pleased to learn a few weeks ago that A.C.T. was awarded the 9-1-1 contract for another two years.

Since moving to Maine in April I have not worked as a paramedic, and haven’t decided whether or not I’ll seek licensure in this state. My wife is doing quite well in her Internet business and I’ve been temporarily retired, busy with the house and garden. We bought a house that was built in 1910, shortly after the founding of the City of Millinocket. At some point, the house had been badly converted into a 3-unit apartment complex, and we’re turning it back into a single family home.

Before I was a paramedic, I was a paper bag machine adjuster, supervisor, and machine operator. You may have worked with me at the Hoerner Waldorf Bag Plant in Fullerton, California, at the Champion Bag Plant in Anaheim, or at Duro Bag Company in Brownsville, Texas. Probably not, but if you did I’d love to hear from you. Just as most of my friends now are paramedics, firefighters, or police officers, the friends I had then made paper bags for a living, or were members of the United Paperworkers International Union. I was Chief Shop Steward and Vice President of our UPIU Local.

Prior to that, I drove a tow truck for a little while, managed an apartment building, and tried my hand at painting houses. I wasn’t very good at that last part. I would start on one wall and, instead of meeting in the middle, my partner would complete the other three walls and meet me on the same wall that I had started on. I hate doing things that I’m not very good at.

As a single parent, I raised a son and while I sometimes realize that I didn’t do that very well either, he came out okay and I am very proud of him. I wish he’d call.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m working my way backwards. After graduating from Stephenson High School in 1969, I spent a couple of years hitchhiking around the country, working, and attending college once in awhile. I am one of those strange people who still believes that a lot of good was accomplished in the 60’s and early 70’s, and will admit that we had one heck of a good time doing it.

I lost a lot of people along the way though, and would really like to do some reconnecting. In the last version of this site, I speculated that this might be how a single person deals with a midlife crisis. I’m no longer single, yet I still feel this way.

Since moving to Maine in 2001, I haven't been involved in emergency medical services. Rather, I have dabbled in web site design, search engine optimization, and Internet marketing, as well as publishing an online newspaper for the past five years.

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