A few days ago the EMS and first responder community lost a great man, Michael Hickey from Schuyler, New York. He lost his life to the impacts of cancer which he was diagnosed with in 2000. Fighting disease was no stranger to Mike as he fought multiple sclerosis for many years prior. Despite facing all this adversity, Mike was not defined by these diseases. He spent his life in service to others. He served our nation as a radio operator in the front lines of the Vietnam War. Upon his return home he used the GI Bill to put him through nursing school and soon after became a paramedic in the early years of the EMS program not only in New York State, but across the country. Mike was a formative member and long-time captain of the Schuyler Volunteer Fire Company’s ambulance service and helped shape and influence EMS in central New York for decades. Through his years of service he saved many lives and helped teach many EMTs and paramedics who would go on to save even more lives.
I first met Mike when I was three or four years old, having fallen onto our living room coffee table and cutting my head. Mike was on the ambulance that responded. Of course I don’t remember that meeting. About 15 years later I would meet Mike again when I had joined the fire department and expressed interest in becoming an EMT. While I took my EMT course in the classroom, Mike taught me in the field, encouraging me to ride as many EMS calls as possible. He taught me first by showing me what to do then eventually by guiding me as I did the activities myself and giving me feedback. Mike was my first professional mentor, always encouraging me to learn more, get involved, and do my best for the patients we served. While I was still learning, he treated me like a peer. I saw in Mike the professionalism, motivation, and knowledge that I wanted to reach in my career along with his passion for teaching and helping others. Mike believed in me enough that he asked me to join him in a new medevac venture, which was another opportunity to learn a great deal and continue working with Mike for some time.
Through the years Mike became a good friend, as did his family. He leaves behind his wife Pat and his grown children Wendy and Mike, Jr., two grandchildren, and countless people who he trained, mentored, befriended, and aided. Mike Hickey is an example of someone who left an amazingly positive impact on the world through his selflessness and professionalism. Rest in peace, Mike. You will be missed by many.