SOUTHWICK – The Southwick Fire department has two new full time members, including one paramedic and one who is nearly complete with his paramedic certification.
Michael Newman, a Springfield resident who received his paramedic certification last week, and Josh Girard, a Southwick resident who expects to complete his certification in March or April, were both approved by the Southwick Select Board Feb. 8.
Girard is a member of the call department already and has applied for a full time position in the past. Select Board members have consistently stated that once Girard completed – or nearly completed – his paramedic courses they would offer him a position.
Girard is the stepson of Fire Chief Russ Anderson and son of fire educator Lisa Anderson. Selectman Joseph Deedy noted that Girard could be held to a high standard because he comes from a firefighting family.
“I understand,” Girard said. “I grew up with a fire chief father and you’re held to a different standard. What everyone else aims for, I have to aim a little bit higher.”
Deputy Fire Chief Richard Stefanowicz said Girard is currently completing his ride-along hours and will take the test when it is available, which is likely at the end of March or early April. He said Girard has “worked very hard” and spent many hours studying.
“He put a lot of independent time toward getting certified,” he said.
Select Board Chair Douglas Moglin said Monday that board members would make good on their promise and congratulated Girard for holding up his end of the deal.
“You’ve put the work in, you’ve done everything we’ve asked of you,” Moglin said, noting that it is his understanding that roughly half of those who start medic school get certified.
Newman currently works for AMR in Springfield and said he would like to join a career department and later further his medical education.
Newman was asked about future plans and whether he wanted to stay in Southwick for the long-haul because in the past year, several medics hired in Southwick left the department after a short stay, often because of the schedule. Many departments offer 24-hour shifts, something the Southwick Fire Department is exploring.
Newman said he would stay in Southwick “as long as you’ll have me.”
Both Newman and Girard will have a probational period and a start date will be determined once contracts are signed. The department now has seven full time members, including one provisional employee whose provision was extended Monday through June 30. In the next few months all seven will be paramedics.