Salute the Badge: Jefferson Co. Paramedic Tim Dooley uses community connections to improve patient treatment

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 12:45 PM CDT
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When Meriden native Tim Dooley entered the workforce in 1982, he knew he wanted to have a unique job.

“When you’re young and you have a whole lot of energy, you see things that you think are pretty cool [and you want to do them],”he said. “I thought that if I could do it for 20 years, that would be a good career.”

Now, Dooley is in his 37th year working at Jefferson County Emergency Services. He says he is grateful for the hidden benefits of working 48-hour shifts as a paramedic, which he’s been working as since 1999.

“I realized what I liked about the job is that it gave me some time off to spend with my children,” he said. “I got to watch them grow.”

Dooley’s 37th year at Jefferson County EMS is also marked by COVID-19. He explained that the outbreak hasn’t changed much about how he does his work, but it impacts more about how he interacts with people who need emergency services.

There are five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County, but Dooley explained callers are still on edge to even utilize emergency services.

“The awareness of COVID 19 has really made a lot of people kind of anxious,” he said. “I think a lot of people are kinda afraid right now to even go to the hospital because they're afraid they're gonna get sick.”

According to Dooley, COVID-19 has mostly increased awareness for the strict cleaning regimen of the Meriden location for Jefferson County EMS and the equipment used to treat patients.

Every caller now gets their temperature taken upon EMS arrival a

And then the medical history is thoroughly examined.

Dooley explained some callers are hesitant to call for emergency

services because they are unsure if their symptoms are “enough” for a hospital visit.

He can understand the fear, but recommends not compromising one’s safety.

“Only you know how you should feel,” he said. “If you don't feel good, you gotta head to the hospital.”

Dooley, who has lived in Meriden since he was 11, says knowing a lot of the callers personally makes it easier for him to treat their needs and give the caller a bit of relief.

“When you show up at somebody's house and they know you, it relieves a lot of their anxieties also,” he said. “Sometimes, not every emergency is a true emergency but to the person that's calling it is; so if you can take away some of the anxiety, that helps a lot and there's a lot of satisfaction.”

COVID-19 has also limited the frequency Dooley gets to interact with those he treats outside of the initial emergency call. The station is closed to the public for the outbreak, but reflects that it’s the most rewarding part of the job.

“I can't even begin to tell the number of patients who have written notes or cards,” he said.

As those patients have helped strengthen the bonds of Dooley and his work family, he remains thankful to his own family who have supported him during his time on the job, particularly during paramedic school.

“It's not easy particularly when you're going through school and you have the kids and they're in school,” he said. It was a pretty hard two years.”

Dooley remains proud of his two sons that also work in public service, one is a nurse practitioner and the other is a school principal.

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