BY STEVE BIGHAM CITIZEN’S NEWS
WATERBURY — William “Boomer” Boucher, one of the state’s first paramedics in the 1970s, was honored May 31 during a special ceremony for emergency responders put on by Waterbury Hospital.
Boucher, who has been responding to emergency calls as a Waterbury paramedic for the past 47 years, was recognized for his dedication, professionalism, old-school common sense, clinical skills and compassion for patients.
The lifelong city resident has been unable to work in recent months due to illness, but his legacy of service is not forgotten.
“He is a god among paramedics,” hospital spokesman Jeremy Rodrigo said. “He’s from the city, he grew up here, stayed here, served his town. This is where he lived. This is where he served.”
“Boomer” was one of several EMS personnel recognized as the hospital celebrated National EMS Week. Among them was a trio of EMT volunteers from Bethlehem Ambulance Association, who, with the help of a Naugatuck paramedic, saved the life of a Woodbury man in cardiac arrest in April.
It was a similar story in Southbury where police, EMTs and paramedics resuscitated a Heritage Village woman who was near death after suffering cardiac arrest while undergoing physical therapy.
Thomaston EMTs saved the life of a baby with the help of a paramedic from the newly established Waterbury Hatzalah, a volunteer Jewish ambulance service created to serve the city’s Orthodox Jewish population. Hatzalah was welcomed at the ceremony, and commended for its excellence and willingness to back up other ambulance services.
“Hit the ground running. As good as you can get, and they are volunteer,” Rodrigo said.
Then there is Waterbury dispatcher Sean Cloney of Beacon Falls, who, over the phone, guided a Naugatuck man as he helped his wife deliver twins, even recommending that the dad-to-be use his shoelace to tie the umbilical cord.
As for “Boomer,” he was called an “EMS pioneer” for performing advanced life support when it was still new in the 1970s.
“It’s mind-boggling that he’s been doing it so long. He only stopped because he got sick,” Rodrigo said. “These are the guys that crawl into overturned cars, take people off the fifth floor and carry them down the stairs, try to do CPR in the most austere environment and deliver babies — all these things in the field.”
Rodrigo said the annual banquet is a celebration of the fraternity among those on the first line of defense, “where emergency care begins,” always covering each other’s back, no matter who the ambulance provider is or where the need arises.
“Everyone working together seamlessly,” Rodrigo said. “EMS isn’t just giving people a ride to the hospital. They’re fully integrated into each other and into the hospital.”
Not surprisingly, a group of Waterbury firefighters in attendance had to leave the banquet early due to an emergency dispatch.