Friday, March 12, 2010
Mike Buchanan looks forward to spending more time with his first priority: his family. Chris House says he'll use his new-found freedom to work on his nursing skills with the V.A. Hospital. Both men are captains for Sedgwick Co. Emergency Medical Services, or EMS, and will retire this weekend.
"I'm going to miss the people the most," Buchanan said Friday morning. "The crews that work with me are just awesome."
"There's always that sense of gratification when you know you've made a difference in somebody's life," House told KAKE News.
Both men have a combined 60 years of experience in saving lives. They've responded to hundreds of thousands of emergency calls over the years.
"Just when I think I've seen it all, something comes up I've never seen before," House said.
In Eastborough, Brad Watkins remembers the day in 1982 when Mike Buchanan came to his home. Watkins' four-year-old son Jason, was nearly crushed under the home's garage door.
"If Mike had not been around, Jason would not be alive today," Watkins said, recalling the accident as if it was yesterday.
"What he did was keep that accident from turning into a tragedy," Watkins remembered.
Today, Jason Watkins is 32 and living happily in Portland, Oregon. His father gave a plaque to Buchanan as a retirement gift. The plaque has a picture of a young Jason, and the man he's become today.
But you'll never hear Buchanan - or House - take credit for the lives they save.
"From the person that calls 911 to the first on the scene... it's a big team that's working together everyday," Buchanan said.
The job has given both men a unique perspective on life, especially given the tragedies they've witnessed over the decades.
"It's enabled me to see how fragile life is," House said, "and how it's important to live everyday like it would be your last."
They are sentiments echoed by Buchanan.
"Take care of your family, do a good job at work, and try to get home safe," he said.
Both men say retirement is bittersweet. Buchanan choked up as he recalled the people he's worked with over the years.
"I just want everybody in Sedgwick County to know they've got good people taking care of them," he said.