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The ambulance leaves without him

There just comes a day when no matter how much you love your job, it’s time to do something else.

After 31 years on duty, paramedic Larry Rankin of Bremerton Fire Department Station 3, East Bremerton, has decided to call it a day.

Not coincidentally, his wife, Susie Rankin, who’s been with Harrison Hospital 35 years, is also retiring — as emergent urgent care director.

“My wife and I decided to make no plans for the first year” after retirement, said the 56-year-old Rankin. “We just decided it was time. Time to do something else ... though right now I don’t know what.”

Rankin was hired as a firefighter in February 1971. In 1973, he received his emergency medical technician (EMT) training and was one of only six EMTs in the department.

The move to create medically skilled firefighters, upgrade hospital emergency rooms with on-site physicians, and create the 911 emergency call system was all developed in the 1970s, he said.

In 1976 he became a full paramedic — along with two others in the department. A paramedic is considered the highest medical technician in the field. There are now 17 paramedics in the department.

Rankin made 96 medical calls in his first year as paramedic. In 2001, he answered more than 6,200 calls, said a spokesman for the department.

Rankin has handled it all — from shootings to traffic accidents to heart attacks. He was at most of the major fires locally: Burwell Hotel and Koontz Junior High in the early 1970s, the Commodore Hotel blaze in the early 1980s, and the Kona Village fire just a few years ago.

“Having been born and raised here in Bremerton, I’ve had opportunities to help a lot of people I’ve grown up with,” Rankin said.

He pointed out that many elderly people call 911 when they don’t need it. He said this is not a bad thing.

“Sometimes we’re the only access they have into (the medical) system,” he said.

Rankin laughed a bit remembering how the department’s paramedics got started.

“We where borrowing equipment from all over the place. One day the chief walked up to us with a (grocery) bag filled with drugs. We didn’t even have a container to put them in.”

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