News, Spotlight

The Death of an EMS Legend

Arnold “Arn” Muller, MD

Arnold “Arn” Muller, MD, Serendipitously Started A.J. Heightman’s Career in EMS

A special thank you to Steve Wirth, JD, for informing me of the passing of Arnold “Arn” Muller, MD, the former Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

I met Dr. Muller via an unusual appointment set up by the governor’s office because my dad was a well-known, an award winning “First Aid”/Captain of the Scranton Fire Dept. Ambulance Division. He was well connected with the lieutenant governor and he set it up for a kid who wanted to be in EMS.

As a young, eager, graduating senior at Temple University, I wanted to get involved in the new federal initiative to improve EMS in the United States under trauma and EMS guru, Dr. David Boyd.

When my dad called, all I knew was that I was to go to Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) and meet a “Dr. Muller” in the operating room changing room at a specified time.

Security escorted me to the OR changing room. Dr. Muller came into the room, sat down on the bench in front of lockers, and attentively listened to me explaining my love for “ambulance system development” and my desire “to get into the profession.”

He told me: “EMS development in PA is in its infancy. Stay in school, get your master’s degree and then see if you still want to get into EMS after it starts to get developed.”

Read Dr. Muller’s Obituary Here

I told him I did not want to wait; I wanted to help develop it and make it better.

He liked my enthusiasm and told me his secretary would send me a few appointments – to meet with EMS councils that were starting up.

I thanked him not knowing that it was the Secretary of Health for Pennsylvania – seated next to me on a locker room bench – in sweaty OR scrubs.

As I left the changing room he said: “A.J.; I wish you well and please feel free to use me as a reference.”

I had a few non-productive interviews in Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. Then, I was call to interview for an EMS Planning position under a federal Grant (A one-year $80,000 grant to hire two people and a basic office) in Wescosville, Pennsylvania, (near Allentown) with the Comprehensive Health Planning Board.

I interviewed there in June of 1975 and the planning director asked me: “Do you really know Arnold Muller?”

“Yes, sir,” I said. And the rest is history.

They hired me for $10,500 plus benefits (1975) – I thought I was rich and so happy to land an EMS job! That was 45 years ago but seems like yesterday.

Rest I peace Dr. Muller. I hope I did you proud!