By Daniel Silliman
Anthony Grimaldi started the IVs, running the drip lines directly into the man's vein, inserting a combination of drugs designed to stop cardiac arrest.
He cut into the man's trachea, inserted a tube, and began breathing for him. The siren screamed through the December day, the ambulance rushed to the hospital, and Grimaldi sat on the jump seat in the back, bending over the man and trying to save his life.
"I'm just doing my job," said the Clayton County paramedic, Monday afternoon. "I don't keep track. I don't guess we ever realize how many people we impact by saving their lives."
The Clayton County Fire Department and Emergency Management Services does keep track, though, and they recognized Grimaldi for saving two lives, in a ceremony last week, making him the most decorated member of the department. Grimaldi, a lieutenant with almost 13 years of service in Clayton County, was named "Paramedic of the Year."
The award noted that Grimaldi had been "selected as the most outstanding paramedic," with "exemplary performance that clearly places [him] above his peers."
He deferred credit to his team, to the fire department chief, Alex Cohilas, and deputy chief, Jeff Hood, and to his family.
"Since the chief took over, it's been unlimited, as far as what we think we can [accomplish]," Grimaldi said. "And you couldn't do it without a crew of guys. The people you work with, on the 24 hours, they're an extension of your family. They're like you're brothers and sisters."
Grimaldi's natural family has been a big influence on his work in Clayton County. Grimaldi said his younger brother is a firefighter in Atlanta and the two of them grew up, in New York, admiring their father, who was a firefighter there.
"I remember seeing my dad fighting a house fire," Grimaldi said. "I remember thinking, 'That's pretty good.' They put a pretty good stop on it and they came out. The camaraderie and the brotherhood they had was intense."
Also honored during the year-end ceremony, were Harvey Crowe, Firefighter of the Year, and Chris Bramlett, Emergency Medical Technician of the Year. Both were deemed, by peers and superiors, to be exemplary and outstanding. Capt. Landry Merkison and Firefighter Sherry Amerman were given the Chief's Award, for enhancing the reputation of the department.
Receiving the Medical Life Saving Award, given to a crew whose actions saved a patient from a life-threatening emergency, were:
Lt. Anthony Grimaldi; Sgt. Darcy Blow; Lt. Rob Lunsford, Sgt. Earl Pressley; Sgt. Brian O'Neal; Firefighter David Spadola; Firefighter Tonya Traufield, Sgt. Chris Bowen; Firefighter Reggie Ferguson; Firefighter Trent Baker; Firefighter Chris Simpson; Firefighter Chris Bramlett; Sgt. Greg Singleton; Sgt. Paul LaRocca; Firefighter Bernie Cohowcz; Firefighter Anthony Hicks; Firefighter Michael Almand.
Receiving the Cardiac Life Saving Award, given to crews whose actions saved the life of a patient suffering from critical heart failure, were:
Lt. Anthony Grimaldi; Sgt. Cody King; Firefighter Charles Devane; Firefighter Donald Anthony; Lt. Jason Harmsen; Lt. James Clark; Sgt. LeQuinn Walker; Firefighter David Shriver; Firefighter Kevin Mitchell; Sgt. James Barbee; Lt. Greg Moen; Firefighter Kevin Rucker; Firefighter Daniel Hardegree; Sgt. Janice Kochevar; Firefighter Nolan Wallace; Sgt. Darcy Blow; Sgt. Greg Singleton; Firefighter Jeffery Greene.
Receiving the Trauma Life Saving Award, given to a crew whose actions were key to saving the life of a patient suffering sever trauma, were:
Sgt. Michael Bently; Lt. Mark Muir; Firefighter Jordan Haun; Firefighter Justin Basnight; Firefighter Sherry Amerman; Lt. Rob Lunsford; Firefighter Nathan Folds; Firefighter David Spadola; Sgt. Nicole Gould; Firefighter Harvey Crowe; Firefighter Sherman Porter; Lt. Jeff Yancey; Firefighter Brandon Hardee; Lt. Jeff Davis; Sgt. Tal Roberts; Sgt. Michael Higginbotham; Firefighter Angie Davis; Firefighter Robert Turner; Sgt. Paul LaRocca; Firefighter Chris Bramlett; Sgt. Tony Bonner; Firefighter Kyle Brown; Firefighter Brian Bailey; Firefighter Reggie Ferguson; Firefighter Marvin Ledgister; Firefighter Justin Micham.
Receiving the Rescue Award, a new award given to those who rescued someone from a life-threatening situation, were:
Lt. Bob Gordon; Lt. Greg Moen; Sgt. Bryant Freeman; Sgt. Janice Kochevar; Sgt. James Barbee; Sgt. Charles Brown; Sgt. Lawrence Adams; Firefighter Alvis Searcy; Firefighter Michael Ballisty; Firefighter Joel Austin; Firefighter LC Jackson; Lt. Jeff Davis; Sgt. Antonio Johnson; Sgt. Eric Flohr; Sgt. Michael Higginbotham; Firefighter Ryan Shuman; Firefighter Justin Basnight; Firefighter Aaron Roberts; Firefighter Darius Wilson; Lt. Rodney Myers; Sgt. Mark Wallace, and Firefighter John Raborn.