“Helping people is everything to me and when I see an emergency unfold, I want to apply my skills to make a difference,” said Ed Young, paramedic at AMR of New York – Westchester, whose passion for helping the helpless has taken him to parts of the world where some of the most tragic events have unfolded. Today, he credits AMR as one of the reasons he’s able to participate in these humanitarian missions.
As part of his association with two aid organizations: Team Rubicon and Global Response Medicine, Young often finds himself deployed to regions hard hit by natural disasters and war, with Ukraine being his most recent assignment.
“Early in 2022, I was scheduled to deploy to Madagascar after Cyclone Batsirai struck the African island nation, but right before I was scheduled to leave, the deployment was put on hold. I was in the process of standing down when a more urgent need arose — the Russian/Ukrainian war,” recalled Young. “Within days, I was swapping out my tropical clothes for some cold-weather gear and heading to the airport. I was on the ground crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border with a team of medical responders the first week of March.”
The image of traumatized civilians still sticks with Young, who has seen more than his fair share of situations involving widespread devastation.
“I saw long lines of people trying to get out of the country and tents set up on the Polish side of the border with medical facilities and hosts offering to take in the refugees,” said Young. “Our patients were primarily IDPs (Internally Displaced People) who were leaving areas of conflict and trying to make their way to safety outside of the country. They were being sheltered in churches, gymnasiums, and wherever else people could find space before being moved to the next location in their journey. Without a central location, our medical team was truly mobile.”
Though a typical deployment is three weeks, Young’s lasted far longer, partly due to the need and partly due to Young’s skills and expertise. Young, a U.S. Navy Veteran, who served in the area of intelligence and technology, has also worked in the private sector for corporate companies. His management background, coupled with his EMS training, catapulted him to a leadership role in which he handled logistical tactics and other duties.
“Our assessment on ground revealed that there was a large need for medical training. The military, civilian physicians and hospital staff weren’t trained on how to provide care to the injured outside of the hospital environment. It was just something they don’t do regularly. So, I was put in charge of the training,” said Young. “It was an austere environment, but we were able to provide Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) and Mass Casualty/Triage trainings. One of the advanced trainings we were able to provide was based on an initiative created by the Norwegian Naval special operations commandos to improve field survival rates by providing pre-hospital whole blood transfusions. The initiative is called “Blood Far Forward.” Blood is collected in the field from “donors” and then either made immediately available or banked and delivered as far forward into the field as possible for pre-hospital resuscitation. We were constantly on the move, but, overall, we trained more than 3,000 people and treated more than 1,000 patients.”
Young’s deployment lasted until August 2022, and then, when he did return to the States, he headed to Baltimore, Maryland for three weeks to complete his Critical Care/Flight Medic certification.
An exhausting several months, yes, but all worth it to Young, who, without hesitation, says missions, like the one in Ukraine, are the “products” of his environment, or more specifically, the example set by a long line of family members who served as frontline workers, his personal military service and AMR.
“Public service is my family’s business. I come from a family of police officers and firefighters,” he said proudly. “I remember my father was one of the first New York City firefighters to become an EMT. I still remember those large three-ring binders he had for the course. I believe that’s where my values to serve come from. The military also showed me a world I never would have known otherwise. It let me know how big the world is, how much I didn’t know about it and gave insight into how others lived, letting me experience their cultures. And then, there’s AMR, which gives me the flexibility to live out my greater purpose. The company’s values are the same as mine: We want to serve people in need. AMR provides me the opportunity to follow my dream of using my knowledge to help the people who need it the most, whether that’s here locally or elsewhere."