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Waynesboro man honored for years in ambulance service

July 15, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Ambulance calls today differ from the 25 years in which Robert Shockey ran them.

"The motto in our day was 'scoop and go,'" he said.

Today's emergency medical technicians must study more and perform more services before a patient ever arrives at the hospital, said Shockey, who only was required to be certified in advanced first aid.

He suspects, though, that the essence of ambulance service remains a deep-set desire to help others.

"You want to help somebody, save someone's life," Shockey said.

Shockey recently was recognized in the state capital for his ambulance service in Waynesboro from 1949 to 1974. Friends kept alluding to "a secret" that turned out to be the Emergency Health Services Federation award and luncheon.

Shockey, who was born in 1924, joined the Waynesboro Volunteer Fire Department's Always There Hook & Ladder Co., which oversaw ambulance service at the time. He participated as an assistant for two years until a call came in saying a tractor-trailer carrying steel had struck a school bus at the intersection of Pa. 16 and Welty Road.

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"The fire chief said, 'Take the call,'" Shockey said, saying he responded he wasn't yet qualified.

The fire chief ordered Shockey to go to the scene, where he found no one was seriously injured. That call became his first as a full-fledged driver, a task made easier by his home's location across from the fire hall.

"I got a lot of calls from then on, day and night. Some nights, I got two or three calls, and never got to bed," said Shockey, who hooked up a buzzer that woke him when needed.

His best memories concern the six babies he was able to deliver. The lifelong Waynesboro resident recalls the first delivery made him nervous, but the subsequent ones "didn't bother me at all."

Another memory that stands out for Shockey involves a local businessman who suffered a ruptured aorta. The Waynesboro Hospital doctor asked Shockey to get to Washington County Hospital as quickly as possible without endangering other drivers on the way.

"I made it in seven minutes," Shockey said, adding the man lived for several years.

Shockey drove a 1948 Packard, followed by a Cadillac, Oldsmobile and two Internationals. The Packard had hardware on the ceiling to hang a stretcher from it.

"We had oxygen and not much else," Shockey said.

He said it would be hard to offer advice to today's emergency medical technicians and paramedics due to the changed requirements. However, he sympathizes with the demands placed on them.

"You have to take a lot," he said.

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