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‘Do the most good’

Lt. John Eric Thrush always wanted to be in a career that would help people, so he became a paramedic in 1987.

“I felt that was a career that would do the most good to help the most people,” he said.

Not only has Thrush helped thousands of people over the years, but he now has received a high honor from the Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue — he recently was named Paramedic of the Year by the department. Honored alongside him is Firefighter of the Year Andrew Kitchen, who was featured in a Suffolk News-Herald article on Tuesday.

Thrush said he was surprised by the recognition while at work.

“I didn’t hear that I was going to receive it,” Thrush said. “They called a meeting in the upstairs lobby. Chief [Mark] Outlaw came and presented it in front of everybody. I was kind of shocked, to say the least.”

In addition to running calls, Thrush is in charge of ordering and distributing all medical supplies for the department. Doing so is time-consuming, he says, because he calls several different companies to get the best price and must keep track of how quickly supplies are used up. He typically orders enough for at least two months when he orders, Thrush said.

“I have a list of all the medical supplies that we normally use,” Thrush said. “I pretty much just have it on a spreadsheet. People will send me an email or fill out a form for what they need.”

Although helping people is all in a day’s work for Thrush, the people he helps are grateful. He specifically recalled two former patients in recent years who went out of their way to show their thanks.

“There was a young girl that had gotten in a wreck, and she had a bunch of broken bones,” Thrush said. “Probably about six months after, she recovered, and they invited me to come to a party they were having in honor of saving her life.”

In another incident, a man who the paramedics had revived came by the station about a week later with a cake and a thank-you card.

Thrush, who works at Station One on Market Street, was nominated for the honor by Battalion Chief Ted Adams.

“He does so much for this department in the field of EMS,” Adams said. Thrush, he added, has been “instrumental in outfitting all of the new medic units and getting them street-ready.”

Thrush has worked in Suffolk since 1996, and was promoted to lieutenant in November 2003. He holds certifications in heavy tactical rescue, which includes confined-space rescue, trench rescue, rope rescue and vehicle rescue.