Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Paul Zuege has volunteered for more than 80 emergency calls in 2010. When Zuege trained to become an EMT-IV technician at age 50, he was the oldest person in his class – and probably the happiest, too. After all, he was realizing a lifelong dream.
“I was going to get into the medical field when I went into the service,” the New London native said. But instead of repairing wounded bodies in Vietnam, he wound up repairing aircraft.
Decades later, his wife, Robin, encouraged him to pursue EMT certification at last. Since then, Zuege, 60, has made up for lost time, participating in countless calls as a paid employee of the Bear Creek Ambulance and a volunteer with New London Emergency Medical Responders, who assist New London Family Medical Center paramedics.
NLFMC lead paramedic Melinda Rose has seen firsthand Zuege’s dedication and recognizes him as a local hero.
“Having Paul on the scene of a call always makes it go a little smoother,” Rose said. “He shows up for calls on weekends, nights, days, even holidays, in rain, shine, humidity, snow – you name it.”
In fact, Zuege volunteered for 110 calls in 2009 and has more than 80 under his belt already this year. “It’s something I enjoy doing, and my wife tolerates having the radio on and going off in the middle of the night,” Zuege said.
Zuege’s wife actually participates in some serious calls, bringing Zuege to the scene so he can drive the ambulance and free up a second paramedic to provide patient care. “It’s a joint venture, I guess,” he said.
Zuege, who owns a property maintenance business and manages an apartment building, even interrupts his workday to assist on calls. “If something comes up, I can peel away from what I’m doing,” he said.
The reason for his dedication is simple. “I’m from New London, so I just enjoy being able to (provide care) here,” he said.
Zuege’s attitude makes those he assists tremendously grateful. “Paul knows the City of New London and the surrounding communities well. If he’s not on the scene when we arrive, he’s there shortly after,” Rose said. “We just can’t thank him enough and don’t know what we’d do without him.”