Clouse to retire after 32 years at White County EMS
Posted By Kim Swindell Wood | September 26, 2019 2:09 pm
By Rachel Auberger
Critical care paramedic Rex Clouse has been with White County ambulance service longer than the ambulance service has been with White County, but, on Oct. 23, he will check in for his final shift.
“Rex was not just here for the start of EMS [emergency medical service] in White County, but also the start of EMS as a whole,” Mike Kerr, EMS director, said. “He has seen the development of EMS from its simple beginnings to the modern medical profession it has become today.”
Three years before White County took over the ambulance service, Clouse began working as an ambulance driver. At that time, the ambulance service was contracted through NHC Healthcare and operated out of a room at the nursing home.
“We had to answer our own phone when calls came in,” Clouse remembered. “There weren’t dispatchers back then – just us guys working 12-hour shifts and manning three trucks.”
Clouse was originally hired with no experience in the emergency medical service field. He remembers being hired on a Tuesday, starting work on a Saturday, but not actually taking any classes for another three days.
“I started EMT [emergency medical technician] school on the Monday AFTER I began working,” he laughed. “We sure wouldn’t do it that way now.”
Clouse said he would go to school during the day, study about something, and then, when working that night, he would receive a call where he would put into action the information he had just learned.
“I remember one day, we were studying about pneumothorax, and then, that night, sure enough, we go out on a call for that very thing,” he said.
Throughout the years, Clouse has seen a lot of changes to the EMS program in White County. In July 1990, the county took the program from NHC and moved the staff and three trucks to its own location. According to Clouse, all equipment was kept outside with the trucks.
“I can remember putting bags of IV fluids over the exhaust vents on the dash as we rode to calls so that they would be warm by the time we reached a patient,” he chuckled and talked about borrowing drugs from the hospital to treat patients that were being transferred because EMS didn’t keep those.
In time, the county built a new building and garage. In time, equipment, fluids and even medicines were kept onsite and indoors. In time, monitors began being used so that the cardio-health of patients could be managed and treated much better. In time, training became more thorough and more intense. In time, medicine progressed, and White County EMS progressed right along with it.
The one thing that didn’t change over time was Rex Clouse. He has always been right there in the middle of all things EMS related. But this fall that will change.
“It’s been a very gratifying profession,” Clouse said. “At first, you get into this for the thrill of the lights and sirens, but that goes away quickly. The fact that you may have helped someone, there’s nothing more satisfying.”
Clouse said the one regret is that an EMS worker rarely knows the end results of their calls.
“We respond. We do our job. We get them to the help they need,” he said. “But so many times we don’t know what happens after we leave them. We did a good job. We did it right. Occasionally someone comes back to let us know. Sometimes we see them in Walmart, and they tell us, ‘Hey, you saved my life.’ That is the ultimate reward for this job.”
Kerr indicated that a lot of EMS employees as well as citizens of White County have been touched by Clouse’s dedication throughout the past 32 years.
“He has played a major role in the lives of countless employees over the years,” Kerr said. “We want to thank Rex for his years of sacrifice and dedication to the citizens of White County.”
As he prepares for his final month of service, Clouse is full of advice for both the public and the young men and women who will be working with White County EMS for the years to come.
“We’re not ambulance drivers,” he wanted to relay to the public. “We are trained professionals. There are nurses in hospitals with less training than some of your EMS workers have. Be respectful – we are doing the best we can to save your life.”
To the fellow workers he leaves behind and to those he hasn’t met yet, he had three pieces of advice:
- Be aggressive. But not overly aggressive.
- Treat the patient, not the monitor.
- Be as least invasive in both a patient’s body and life as possible.
And as for what comes next for the man who has dedicated most of his adult life to serving others, Clouse said he has some unfinished projects around the house. He also has started, but hasn’t yet completed, a “rolling restoration” of a 1972 Spitfire he bought several years ago.
“I’m absolutely going to miss this, though,” he said quietly. “Once it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood.”