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Gargana get recognition

June 24, 2002|by CAILIN MCGOUGH

cailinm@herald-mail.com

After 25 years, Tim Gargana still finds it hard to predict his workday.

At 9 a.m., he and other members of Community Rescue Service assemble for roll call, divide into crews and divvy up chores. After that, the day is determined by the flashing red lights and echoing alarm that signal an emergency call.

A paramedic at CRS in Hagerstown and assistant chief at Sharpsburg Area Rescue Service, Gargana, 39, of Clear Spring, received a Chief's Award for paramedic of the year at the first Emergency Medical Services Awards banquet last month. Honorees were selected through a poll of chiefs of all EMS departments in Washington County.

Chris Amos, chief of CRS and coordinator of the awards, called Gargana's work well-rounded.

"One of the criteria we looked at was who stood out, over and above. His involvement in different areas and levels throughout the state made him stand out," Amos said.

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Gargana said supervisors often get credit because of their visibility in the department and community.

"They couldn't give awards if they didn't have good people in the whole system," he said.

Gargana is very familiar with the system; an 80- to 100-hour work week is normal, he said.

When not working full time at CRS and Sharpsburg, Gargana is enrolled at Hagerstown Community College pursuing a degree in business administration that he hopes to complete at Frostburg State University. He also spends time on the other side of the classroom, teaching in HCC's recently developed paramedic degree program.

While the two-year program lends credibility to the paramedic certification, which for years could be obtained through evening classes, more training has made it difficult to find volunteers, Gargana said.

Limited financial resources, lengthy training requirements for paramedics and competition from departments in other counties have led to staffing shortages throughout Washington County.

"The challenging part is trying to do everything we do with the limitations we have," Gargana said. "We're hustling just to make ends meet."

One of three shift supervisors at CRS, Gargana is in charge of training and ensuring that paramedics maintain their certifications.

Gargana first volunteered through a junior member program in a department sponsored by his high school in Clear Spring at age 14.

After taking courses in nursing and working as a correctional officer, a deputy sheriff and a 911 dispatcher, Gargana finds his work as a paramedic most rewarding.

You see you've made a difference, he said, "when you have a little lady or gentleman that grabs your hand and says thanks."

As a 911 dispatcher, Gargana guided a mother through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation that revived her baby, garnering an award from the state and county.

Two years ago, he was also honored with a Shock Trauma Heroes Award after a rescue from Annapolis Rock.

Told that if he could find a job he would do for free he had found his calling, Gargana is confident in his career choice.

"I started out doing this for free," he said.

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