AUGUSTA — Had Kevin Curry’s wife not spilled the beans one night a few weeks ago, the enthusiastic crowd who trailed him to Augusta on Monday may not have been nearly as large.
“I’m here today, which is great, but there are some other people from the Midcoast who’ve been there just as long as I’ve been around,” said Curry, after the 32 annual EMS Appreciation Week awards ceremony Monday, May 20, at the Maine State Capitol.
Curry, a man who has done so much for so many others through a 49-year career, wanted to keep his EMS Lifetime Achievement Award quiet. Yet, actions speak louder than words, especially to the residents of Union, St. George, Augusta, and the numerous students who’ve turned to him for training.
By age 10, Curry was throwing blankets over a ladder made for bunk beds, and insisting that any of his six younger siblings lay on top. He’d then ‘save them’ and tend to their health. At 15, he started volunteering with his hometown Massachusetts fire department. At 17, according to his mother and youngest brother, he’d built the town’s first ambulance in his garage.
A few weeks ago, as Curry’s wife, Karen, visited Curry, a paramedic, and Steve Leach during a shift at Union Ambulance, Curry’s wife turned to Leach: “Did you hear about the award?”
A member of the EMS board had called Curry directly to tell him that he’d been nominated, and won. What wasn’t said was who’d recommended him.
As it turned out, Leach was that person, and only learned of the win as Karen spilled those beans.
Not only do Leach and Curry work together at Union Ambulance, but, they’d also fought fires together at the Augusta Fire Department where Leach is a battalion chief. Curry retired May 5.
According to Leach, the nomination process requires three references. Leach didn’t need to look far to fill that quota. Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette and St. George Ambulance Director Amy Drinkwater both answered the call. Yet references could have been found just as easily.
Curry moved to Maine in 1982 and began helping with the services in the Midcoast area. He joined Gardiner Fire Department for a few years. In 2002, he joined with Augusta.
Currently, he maintains ‘a healthy’ per diem schedule with St. George EMS, Damariscotta, and Warren Rescue.
“In the Midcoast, the well is dry for manpower for folks doing the services,” he said. “Folks aren’t volunteering. It takes a very dedicated individual to devote the first step of the EMT course. A lot of folks are working hard just to get to that step. They come out of service and make the next step up to paramedic. It’s a lot of work. A lot of dedication.”
Curry continues to have that dedication.
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org