Richard Beebe: A trusted friend, expert teacher and passionate EMS advocate

Beebe had powerful beliefs about EMS, the provision of EMS education, lifelong learning and professionalism which we can continue to advance

I can’t remember when I first met Rich Beebe, nor can he.

Oddly, he posed this question to me several weeks ago.

We concluded that our meeting happened at a rural EMS conference in the Hudson Valley area of New York State some 15 or 16 years ago. We were both presenting at the conference and very quickly became the closest of friends.

While we had much in common as speakers, authors, EMS educators and fellow nurse/paramedics, our personalities were miles apart. Those differences, in retrospect, helped the both of us grow and change, forge new projects together and gave us the fodder for hours upon hours of conversation. It didn’t hurt that we both enjoyed Starbucks and a fine cigar.

I will miss Rich terribly, not unlike the thousands of students and health care providers he has trained and entertained over the years. His enthusiasm and passion for EMS are literally unbridled. Rich lived, breathed, ate, slept and drank EMS.

He inspired others to reach for excellence. When a student faltered, he took it personally and did whatever it took to make them successful. 

I could tell you countless stories from successful professionals that fondly remember Rich finding them a work-study job when they ran out of money to pay their paramedic tuition or folks that he personally tutored for hours on end. There was no student he would turn away and no colleague he would not lend a helping hand. 

Rich was also brilliant. His many textbooks are a testament to the breadth and depth of his knowledge. He worked tirelessly to improve EMS education, helping to revise the EMS Educational Standards and serving on the board of NAEMSE. His lively and dynamic presentation style was widely sought after at local, state and national EMS conferences.

The future of many of the projects Rich and I did together seems cloudy. Conferences we coordinate, such as the annual New York State Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association Pulse Check conference, and the many critical care transport courses we put on around the country were products of neither McEvoy nor Beebe but rather our team of two. 

Richard Beebe and Mike McEvoy

Richard Beebe, left, and Mike McEvoy at the closing of the Pulse Check 2015 (Image courtesy NYSVARA) 

Rich’s humor balanced my sarcasm; his eternal patience balanced my rigidity; his social grandiosity balanced my shyness; his never ending imagination balanced my conservatism. 

In my grief … and in the grief of the entire EMS community, the first thing that Rich would want us to do is to learn from his experience. That may take some time. 

The second thing he would want us to do is continue to push his EMS agendas. Those I can put in print right here and now. Rich had a lot to say about our EMS system and EMS education, but his bottom line focused on a few very powerful beliefs. 

Firstly, Rich believed in a solid EMS education and lifelong learning. That means college educated faculty with a passion for EMS education, a talent for teaching and continued active practice in the field. 

Secondly, Rich believed that EMS providers need to act as professionals if they expect to be treated as such: no excuses. 

Lastly, Rich believed in dreams. Anything can be achieved if you set your mind to it. If you fail, then you need to get up and try again. 

On the way, every one of us needs help, support, and counsel. Rich was there for so many. It’s our turn to pick up that ball: mentor and support the newbies, draw the right people into our profession and allow those who need to leave to do so. 

Godspeed to you, my brother; your EMS family will take it from here. Thank you for your lifetime of service.

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