HOLDEN, Mass. – Central Mass EMS Corp. (CMEMSC), founded in 1977, has one member that can say that he pre-dates the organization’s official opening, and after 43-years of service, he will soon retire. Edward C. McNamara, a pioneer of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is completing his final month of a career that spanned over four decades of service as the Executive Director of the first organized “EMS Region” in Massachusetts.
Ed, an EMT since 1974 and Nationally Registered Paramedic since 1994, was hired in 1976 as a communications consultant to work with five area EMS committees. After spear-heading the formation of the Commonwealth’s first organized EMS region (now, one of five under the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, consisting of 76 cities and towns), Ed established the region’s central medical emergency direction (CMED) system; a communications network that allows EMS units in the field to reach the region’s numerous hospitals by radio. This system facilitates early activation of key patient care resources and allows EMS providers to receive “orders” from physicians in the emergency department.
In a time when another critical EMS resource – medical helicopters – were non-existent in the region, Ed worked to secure a contract with the area’s military air ambulance unit, giving EMS providers in remote areas an opportunity to rapidly transport patients to the region’s single trauma center. This partnership eventually lead to what we now know as “LifeFlight” and other such helicopter EMS services.
In 1995 CMEMSC became the first and only EMS Regional office to purchase its own building. This facility includes the state of the art CMED Center, facilities for storing critical regional EMS assets, and meeting/classroom spaces. CMEMSC Headquarters also hosts the Commonwealth’s first Regional Medical Coordinating Center, initiated under Ed’s leadership.
Funding many of these “firsts” and maintaining critical services has been a tireless effort of Ed’s as demonstrated through his dedication to numerous statewide committees, including having served for seven-years as the Chair of the Central Region Homeland Security Advisory Council – the region’s oversight and multi-disciplinary planning body for Homeland Security Grant Program funding which has brought millions of dollars in critical public safety resources into the region since the program’s inception in response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
In addition to his CMEMSC and statewide EMS achievements, Ed proudly served his nation’s military in the U.S. Army’s 182nd Infantry Battalion, retiring at the rank of Colonel in 2002. Ed continues his federal uniformed service to the National Disaster Medical System where he serves as a Safety Officer on Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) MA-2, deploying to many notable disaster incidents in our nation’s recent history.
Ed and his wife Edee call Sterling, Mass. their hometown where they enjoy time with their two adult children and their families, including numerous grandchildren; a community where Ed also served Sterling Fire/EMS for 34-years, retiring as Deputy Chief. Ed and his family share a love of horses, as well as skiing – a sport that comes naturally to Ed. He has spent 40 years serving on the ski patrol at Wachusett Mountain as well as several years as the chair of the National Ski Patrol. He has also lent his leadership experience in a broader way as the editor of the 5th and 6th editions of Outdoor Emergency Care, an industry-standard of care text for ski patrollers nationwide.
CMEMSC will show its appreciation of Edward McNamara with a retirement celebration on October 4, 2019 at the Wachusett Country Club where all of Ed’s many colleagues and friends are welcome and expected to attend; a fitting send-off for an EMS founding father.