CONWAY — Quincy Hardee doesnt expect to hang around his office long when he gets to work each day.
An Horry County paramedic whos stationed at the countys busiest EMS unit, hes learned to expect that therell be a call not long after he arrives and itll be another day of dealing with the chaos and rewards that is emergency medical assistance.
The paramedics of the emergency response service perform their task under arduous circumstances, Edward King, medical director at Conway Medical Center Emergency Department, said in an email. In response to emergency situations the paramedics perform the interventions that alter the clinical course of the patient positively. They are a vital link in the provision of emergency medical care.
Although he didnt know it at the time, Hardee began his path toward emergency medicine when he learned about sports medicine at Conway High School. Later, in the Army he was a designated combat lifesaver as a member of a tank unit that was at the head of the surge to Baghdad in the Iraq War.
We were the first to cross the Euphrates River, he recalled his duty in the Middle East. We were the first into Baghdad.
When Hardee returned home, he joined the North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad and really began to hone his craft. His father had been a driver for the countys first medic unit, so he knew something about what to expect.
But much had changed in the time between the fathers lifesaving and the sons.
They really didnt have paramedics back then, he said. They just picked you up and carried you to the hospital.
Becoming a paramedic is not just a matter of showing up for a job interview and then hopping into the back of an ambulance. It takes years of practical, on-the-job experience and many hours of classwork before you can call yourself a paramedic.
Hardee remembers that one of his first calls was to a motorcycle wreck on S.C. 90, where the riders girlfriend survived with cuts and bruises, but the rider opened a hole in his head when the bike hit a tree. The hole was large enough to swallow Hardees partners glasses when they fell off at the scene.
He also remembers spotting the victim of an automobile accident the morning after the wreck crawling on his hands and knees near a highway. His intestines were hanging out of his body from the injuries he had received in the wreck.
Both men made it to the hospital, but no farther.
He said that dealing with emergency medical situations becomes second nature and allows you to focus on the job at hand rather than the carnage. Sometimes, the stress hits home, he said, but likely that is as much from the post traumatic stress hes got from his 18 months in Iraq.
Hardees experience with emergency medicine began in his childhood, although he has few if any memories of it. He had seizures until he was 7 years old, and in some of them he had to be transported to other, more sophisticated hospitals for treatment. In one of his later episodes, he died for seven minutes.
Now 32 years old and the father of two children, hes been a full-fledged paramedic for about six months.
He said he crosses his fingers every time he has to go on a call for a child, but at the same time realizes that those in his profession can play a pivotal role in the lives of children who are home alone when both parents work and older people who find themselves left without family or close friends.
When you dont have anybody and you get hurt, he said, you call 911.
Hardee said the best part of his job is when he gets into the community and talks with people and meets different personalities.
Philosophically, he likens the work to being a duck. Below the water, youre paddling as hard as you can go while above it, you appear calm and in complete control.
I know its a stressful job and we see people at their worse, he said. I try to make (patients) smile, put a smile on their face. And I try to have a smile on my face because when I dont, it just makes them that much more anxious.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.