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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Berkshire Profile: John P. Meaney Jr.

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, September 23, 2006

North Adams Ambulance Service Education Director John P. Meaney Jr.
Welcome to Berkshire Profile, an iberkshires weekly feature appearing on Sunday. Each week, iberkshires will highlight a Berkshires resident or entity making a contribution to the Berkshires way of life.

North Adams - For city native John P. Meaney Jr., the Northern Berkshire green-to-glorious foliage transition signals a favorite time of year.

Meaney, 25, has always been a huge fan of the yearly, upcoming Fall Foliage Festival parade.

"The big thing for me was that I was always very excited about the parade," he said during a Sept. 22 interview. "I still look forward to it. The only year I ever missed was the one that was canceled because of the storm[freak snowstorm 1987]. When the parade got canceled, I remember sitting in front of the television and I was devastated."

One Emergency After Another

Meaney now finds himself dealing with emergency situations on a daily basis in several capacities; he is a certified North Adams Ambulance Service paramedic as well as the service's education director and the NAAS emergency medical technician education program's instructor coordinator.

Meaney is also a part-time dispatcher for the city's emergency services dispatch center, which handles calls for the city police and fire departments, the NAAS, the Clarksburg police and fire departments and emergency medical services calls and fire department and medical services calls for Stamford, Vt..

Family Tradition Of Emergency Service

His interest in emergency services began when he was a youngster and his mother Mary Ann Meaney worked as a Village Ambulance Service office staff member. Meaney said that he spent many hours at the Williamstown-based headquarters and loved every minute of his time there.

"My mother worked there for about eight years, and I loved going there," Meaney said. "Everybody was so nice to me over there; they'd let me help with rig checks [ambulance inspections] and things that I could do. I loved being there and they taught me a lot about emergency services."

City Councilor and NAAS board president Robert Moulton Jr. and John Moulton are Meaney's uncles; Robert Moulton Jr. is a former EMT and John Moulton still maintains EMT certification, Meaney said. He recalled attending family gatherings with his uncles, who encouraged his interest.

"They'd let me hold their hand-held radios and I'd watch them when they answered the calls," Meaney said. "I knew that I wanted to be part of that. I knew growing up that I wanted to do something in public safety."

Education:"I Had A Blast In Shop"

Meaney spent his time "growing up" in the city's West End Blackinton area. He attended kindergarten as a student enrolled at a city public school, and spent grades one through eight as a St. Stanislaus Kostka parochial school student. He enrolled at the Charles H. McCann Technical High School's electricity program as a high school freshman and graduated as a member of McCann Class of 2000.

McCann delivered a very good education, Meaney said.

"I always enjoyed my shop classes," he said. "I had a blast in shop. I really liked the teachers, Bob Davis, Al Agostini, Mark Dunn."

The Magic Number is 18

His interest in emergency services led Meaney to enroll in a Berkshire Medical Center-hosted emergency medical technician basic program when he was 17 years old.

Under state law, individuals may not test for EMT certification until the age of 18 is attained; the first scheduled test date that followed Meaney's program completion occurred on his 18th birthday-which was a Saturday, he said.

"And the state wouldn't let me test that day because they said they couldn't process my paperwork [before the test date, while he was 17]," he said.

Most of his classmates did take the certification test on that date but Meaney was forced to wait for six months before the next scheduled test. He passed that exam and was certified as a basic level EMT is September 1999, he said.

A Change In Plans

When planning for life after high school, Meaney wasn't considering college, he said. But a high school trip to a Berkshire Community College career fair led Meaney to a very interesting discovery. The Springfield College offered a four-year emergency medical services management program, and Meaney was soon hooked on the idea of earning a degree.

"My parents definitely weren't expecting it, that I would go to college," Meaney said. "There are only about 10 colleges in the country that offer these degrees and it happened that Springfield is one of them."

While a college student, Meaney acquired intermediate level EMT certification and then, as part of the degree requirements, took a college-taught paramedic course. During his freshmen year of college, he was certified as a cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructor and often assisted EMT basic level instructors with teaching.

Meaney graduated with a bachelor's degree in 2004; he also earned advanced cardiac life support instructor credentials. He teaches advanced cardiac life support classes to medical personnel at the North Adams Regional Hospital and the Berkshire Medical Center. He attended weekend classes in Worcester so that he could earn certification as an instructor coordinator, which was imperative to the launch of the accredited NAAS EMT education program.

"I love my job," he said. "I can't see myself doing anything else. It's been my passion since I was eight years old."

Things are evolving within the NAAS and emergency medical services overall, Meaney said.

"EMS is still considered very new," he said. "It's only about 30 years old. What we [NAAS} are doing is a lot of recruitment and we have talked about getting into a career fair. Our call volume is increasing every year. We'll need more ambulances and more ambulances mean more staff."


On Top Of Their Game

Meaney began dispatching duties about 18 months ago, after he attended a 911 training program held at the state police academy in Agawam.

"I'd always wondered what it's like on the other end of things," he said of his desire to answer emergency calls via the telephone rather than in person. "You do have to be certified in 911 before you can do anything. And I trained at the [city] police station for about six weeks before anyone let me do anything. I feel just as involved behind the desk as I at the scene. Dispatchers are a very important part of EMS. They have to be at the top of their game."

Meaney currently works one day a week as a dispatcher, he said.

A Wedding In The Works

His personal life is about to become as busy as his professional life; Meaney is engaged to Angela Deyo, a Westfield College senior who is earning a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a bachelor's degree in psychology. The Shelburne Falls resident is hoping to find a teaching job in the Berkshire area, Meaney said. An Aug. 11 2007 wedding is being planned, he said.

"We plan to start our family and stay local after we get married," Meaney said. "She would love to land a teaching job and I plan to stay with the ambulance service as education director."

Great Neighbors

Meaney has purchased on home on Williams Street and said that leaving the area is not in his future.

"I like the small town, family aspect of this area," he said. "It's so beautiful here. I do think people take it for granted, and I know I do."

"I don't ever see myself leaving. I see myself in it here for the long haul. All my hard work has paid off, and I've been able to buy a house."

Meaney paused, then spoke in a bright, cheerful tone.

"I bought a house and I've got great neighbors. [City Councilor] Dick Alcombright is my neighbor. That's pretty good right there."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
Your Comments
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It's so nice to see that young boy who rode around on his bike w/2 way radio's taped to it, and later in his car with the scanner going has made a place for himself. There was never a doubt in my mind that EMS was were he belonged.
from: on: 10-06 00:00:00-2006


 
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