As a member of the Suffolk Regional Emergency Medical Services Council, longtime Southold firefighter Ed Boyd is tasked with selecting the group’s annual award recipients.
As part of his duties, he reads all the nominations and then selects a winner for the Suffolk County Basic Life Support Provider of the Year. But this year, Mr. Boyd didn’t realize he had been fooled. One of the nominations, submitted by Southold’s fire chiefs, had been hidden. It was for Mr. Boyd himself.
So when REMSCO announced last month that he was the winner, Mr. Boyd — an ex-Southold Town fire chief and 35-year volunteer firefighter— was stunned.
“I had absolutely no idea I had been nominated for it,” he said. “I was pleased because I have done this for a long time. There were a lot of people worthy of this, but it just so happened to be my year, my time.”
The award signifies another accolade for the 73-year-old, who attends more than 90 percent of emergency calls and is among his department’s most active members.
“The man is amazing,” said Southold Town Fire Chief Jim Rich. “He takes the time to teach himself well beyond what’s just a basic requirement of being an EMT.”
Mr. Boyd moved to the North Fork in 1975 after spending his early career as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, where he dealt with airplane highjackings.
“It was an interesting time,” he said, adding that he couldn’t go into further detail about the position since some of the methods then used to deal with highjackings are still used today.
Since then, Mr. Boyd has worked as a private attorney on the North Fork. He joined the local fire department almost immediately.
“It was something that had always interested me, the idea of being able to be part of the community, to help the community,” he said. “It was an appropriate thing to do when I had the opportunity.”
After more than three decades in fire service, Mr. Boyd is still going strong. He’s president of the North Fork Volunteer Rescue Squad Association, his second time in the top role. He has also pushed for the department to learn new techniques, like measuring blood sugar levels and methods to help patients who are having trouble breathing.
Chief Rich said Mr. Boyd is constantly learning and working to his maximum potential, something that provides a “big comfort” to the chiefs when they’re dealing with a stressful scene. Mr. Boyd is someone they can rely on.
“Ed has a compassion for his volunteer job that I have never seen in anyone before,” said Peggy Killian, assistant chief and head of the department’s medical teams. She called Mr. Boyd a role model for Southold’s EMTs.
Mr. Boyd was specifically honored for his role in a serious emergency rescue call last May, when a woman was struck by a truck while riding her bike in Southold. The victim was thrown into a metal street sign and a mailbox and suffered from serious blood loss, according to the fire chiefs.
Using special blood-clotting dressings, Mr. Boyd and the other EMTs on call were able to tend to the woman’s wounds and stabilize her enough to be airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital. She ultimately survived the ordeal, Ms. Killian said.
“Many times it’s just a matter of being there, being attentive to them, holding their hand, talking to them to ease their transition to the hospital,” Mr. Boyd said. “There are things that sometimes we don’t have any control over. We just have to do the best we can, deal the hand we’ve been dealt.”
Unfortunately, Mr. Boyd said, it’s the tragic emergency calls that stick out in his mind — the ones that go wrong despite the EMTs’ best efforts.
But Mr. Boyd takes comfort in knowing he’s been able to help his neighbors. Someday, he admitted, he’ll have to hang up his firefighting gear. But that day won’t come any time soon.
“The community relies upon the fire department. They may not know us individually, but they know us as a group,” he said. “And it’s my pleasure to be part of that response to be able to help the people who need it. That’s what keeps me going.”