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Lewis County Search and Rescue’s new chief boasts extensive experience

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LOWVILLE — A relative newcomer to the north country with extensive emergency medical services and business experience soon will be taking the helm of Lewis County’s largest ambulance squad.

J. Trevor Perry, Burrville, on Dec. 30 will take over as chief of operations at Lewis County Search and Rescue. The Indiana native is replacing Mark A. Tuttle, who has held the job for nearly two years after a 5-year stint as Lewis County’s emergency medical services director.

The new operations chief, who became an EMT in 1994 and a paramedic in 1999, was selected recently from a pool of seven or eight candidates by a hiring committee consisting of board members and volunteers with the squad.

“I think the combination of his professional business background with his extensive EMS background will be a good fit for Search and Rescue,” said Mr. Tuttle, who has taken a job with Air Methods and will be serving on a LifeNet helicopter crew based in Watertown.

Mr. Perry has worked with large ambulance companies in Indianapolis and Naples, Fla., but moved from the sunny South to the Watertown area a couple of years ago to be near his ex-wife and their children.

“I wasn’t going to get back into EMS when I moved up here,” he said. However, Mr. Perry — who also operates a pool service business stemming from one started with his brother in Florida — said he was informed of the relative shortage of EMTs in the area and thought he would help out as a volunteer. After finally getting his Florida licensing accepted by New York state officials, he joined the town of Watertown ambulance squad about a year ago.

Mr. Perry said the job opportunity here was enticing, since he has always had an interest in the management side of the industry and had served as a supervisor in the past. However, he said, joining a squad so dependent on volunteers is a new experience for him, and he plans to rely on Mr. Tuttle and other squad members to help maintain a solid operation.

“I’m not here to make changes,” Mr. Perry said.

While hoping eventually to introduce some more national standards to the squad here, the new director said he would do so only after gaining consensus and input from members. “Our primary goal is doing what’s best for patients and what’s best for Search and Rescue,” he said.

Mr. Perry admitted that coming to the north country from a more metropolitan — and balmy — location has been somewhat of a challenge. “I’ve been wearing the long johns for three months now,” he said.

However, Mr. Perry said, he and his family are enjoying the small-town lifestyle.

Mr. Perry said he was even asked by a clerk at a local Stewart’s Shop if he was the new director at Search and Rescue.

“When you’re not from here, they know,” he said.

Mr. Tuttle said he plans to continue teaching local EMS classes and remain a volunteer member of the squad, as he has been since 1985 while a junior at Lowville Academy and Central School.

However, he said, his new job will offer a “management sabbatical” in which he can focus solely on patient care in the north country’s more demanding cases. “I was just looking for something more challenging,” Mr. Tuttle said.

The Air Methods schedule, including seven to eight 24-hour shifts per month, also should be a little more conducive to family time, he said.

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