Surry County resident Randy Westmoreland has seen it all.
If not all, then he must be pretty close to all after more than 16 years as both a paramedic and a sports official.
Having a sports parent yell from the stands is nothing after years of showing up at the scene of a car accident and having to respond under life-or-death pressure.
“You have to have a special stomach for this type of work,” admitted Westmoreland, who lives in the Pine Hill area between Pilot Mountain and Level Cross. He might arrive on a scene and find someone with a deep cut, who is bleeding out. In that situation, he has to respond quickly without rushing. Think fast, but keep his cool.
Since he earned his paramedic degree from Guilford Tech 17 years ago, Westmoreland has lost count of the number of patients for whom he’s been credited with saving their lives across Surry, Stokes and Yadkin counties.
He recalled getting an award from John Shelton and the Surry County EMS after he saved his fifth life.
He estimated that he had eight or nine saves in Surry, four or five more in Yadkin and several in Stokes, so he may be between 20 and 25 overall.
Never satisfied that he has enough medical knowledge, Westmoreland has continued to take courses to broaden his experience. He has a wide range of certificates in his own field (including instructor training) and has taken classes in the nursing field as well.
One of his favorite days in class was going to a Winston-Salem hospital and getting to watch a surgical team reattach a severed hand.
Three years ago, Wilkes Community College hired Westmoreland as an emergency medical science instructor. This summer, the program coordinator was promoted by the college, and Wilkes didn’t have to look far for a replacement.
Westmoreland is now the coordinator/lead EMS instructor at WCC.
The medical training started not long after high school. Westmoreland graduated from North Davidson in 1987 and joined the Navy in April 1988.
He served as a hospital corpsman and a pharmacy technician during his eight years of service.
While he served during the first Gulf War, Westmoreland didn’t participate in Desert Storm.
He said he was in Pensacola, Florida, preparing for the war. He would be part of a mobile hospital team.
Then just 12 hours before he was scheduled to ship out in February 1991, word came down that there was a ceasefire and the war appeared to be over. Westmoreland never had to deploy overseas.
Westmoreland left the service in November 1995 and started EMT training with the spring quarter in 1996.
Part of the training included a 12-hour ride-along inside an ambulance. After that first ride, Westmoreland knew he was hooked.
After moving from Florida back to North Carolina, he graduated from GTCC in July 1998 with a paramedic degree and later earned an associate degree from Surry Community College in 2007.
Throughout the years, he’s also worked a second job as a referee for football, basketball, baseball and softball.
Westmoreland said he started calling games while he was still in high school to make some spending money. He kept it up while he was in the service, officiating sporting events in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Alabama as he was moved from base to base.
He said football is his favorite game to referee, and his biggest thrill thus far is calling the Black and Gold games at Wake Forest University, the fall scrimmages the team holds.
Standing 6-foot-3, Westmoreland played tackle on his high school football team and power forward for basketball. With his height and broad size, Westmoreland is as big as any of the football players he supervises.
He recalled one high school game where a petite running back broke through the line and headed for daylight.
Westmoreland was standing in the middle of the field and froze so that the runner could see him and dodge around.
The back was so busy looking around for defenders that he didn’t zig or zag and went right at Westmoreland.
At the last second, Westmoreland threw up an arm to protect himself, and the halfback plowed right into that arm. The facemask of the helmet left marks in his forearm, but it was the runner who got the worst of it, going down like he’d been blasted by J.J. Watt.
As much as he loves sports, Westmoreland is just as passionate about his job.
In his new position, he said he is trying to institute more “high-fidelity simulations” into the coursework.
The state sets a curriculum for classes, he said, but he is working to enhance it with the help of some high-tech dummies.
The EMS program now has mannequins with computer processors inside. They help simulate real-world circumstances, he said.
For example, a student might need to give 2 cc of medicine to the patient. There is a radio tag built into the syringe that sends a signal to the computer inside the mannequin. The computer knows if the right medicine and the right quantity of medicine is used for any given situation.
If the student gives 4 cc instead of 2 cc, then the mannequin will start to act like a real patient would, like shallow breathing or erratic pulse or going into full cardiac arrest.
Still, a lot of work needs to be done with real people. He said students still practice starting an IV by sticking each other.
However, learning new technology keeps the field interesting for the busy instructor.
As if he doesn’t have enough to occupy his time, Westmoreland also spends a lot of time at sporting events for his daughter, Jordan.
A rising seventh-grader at Central Middle, Jordan played basketball for her dad’s team at Copeland and also has played softball and Junior Olympic track and field. Recently, she placed in the top 25 in a state track qualifier in Greensboro in the 13-14 age group in the 200 and 400 races.
Jordan wants to play volleyball, tennis, basketball, swimming, softball and track, but there are only three seasons. If Westmoreland can find a way to be a paramedic, instructor, referee and coach all at the same time, then don’t count his daughter out.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.