WILMINGTON – October might be Respect Life Month for the Catholic Church, but for Bruce Egan and the members of the Emergency Medical Services department at St. Francis Hospital, it is something they do every month of the year.
“We believe that each person is a manifestation of human life. Our job is to go out every day and preserve that,” said Egan, chief of EMS at the hospital since July 2010.
Egan, 38, said the Catholic faith he grew up with guides his work. He remembers the Golden Rule, trying to treat people the way he would like to be treated.
His faith was formed as a youngster in Ridley Township, Pa., where he attended Notre Dame de Lourdes School, and at Cardinal O’Hara High School in nearby Springfield. He was a volunteer for the Milmont Fire Co. as a teenager and found his life’s calling.
“I just absolutely love it,” he said.
Part of the lure of EMS is the rush, he said. “Your heart’s pounding, your adrenaline’s pumping, and you’re thinking what are you going into. You could be dispatched for something, but when you pull up, it’s something totally different. You just never know. I think that’s what keeps a lot of EMTs in the field. There’s never a dull moment.”
The job has another side Egan likes, which is the “gratitude when you actually get to help somebody, whether that’s saving a life or an older person who might just need help getting off the floor. Either way, it’s nice to be able to come to a job every day and basically, you know you’re going to end up helping somebody.”
Egan’s primary duties at St. Francis consist of administration and leadership, although he sometimes goes out on calls when there is a need for command staff or he has to cover for a crew member.
Egan and his wife, Jen, live in Aston, Pa., with their daughters, ages 10 and 7. They are members of St. Joseph’s Parish there. He had been a co-owner of an ambulance service in Delaware County, but he sold it after it became too busy for them to operate. In his work there and at St. Francis, he has gained administrative experience, but he knows what his personnel face each day.
At St. Francis, he cannot ask potential employees about their faith, but Egan tries to find out what they know about the hospital, what it stands for and its commitment to serving the city of Wilmington. He wants them to know the hospital is dedicated to treating every person with reverence and committed to helping the poor in the area.
The city contracts with St. Francis for EMS service, so Egan and his employees encounter some potentially dangerous situations. He said, however, that doesn’t really cross his mind while he’s on a call that might involve gunfire or other hazards. Before coming to Wilmington, he responded to emergencies for 12 years in Chester, Pa.
“Afterward, you can say somebody was looking out for me on that specific incident,” he said. “It basically could even be driving to the call, when you’re going lights and sirens. It only takes a split second for somebody not to see us, and next thing you know we’re involved in a major wreck.”
The St. Francis EMS has been fortunate to in that regard, Egan said. He didn’t know whether that had anything to do with St. Michael, patron saint of police officers, or St. Florian, the patron of firefighters.
“I’m not so sure EMS has its own saint,” he said.