Garren guides EMS as new director
by Jessica Loeding
Sep 16, 2013 | 2193 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kevin Garren was named EMS director for Bartow County in early August. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Kevin Garren was named EMS director for Bartow County in early August. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Kevin Garren is a soft-spoken man, preferring to talk about his department — Bartow County Emergency Medical Services — instead of himself.

That modest and team-driven approach certainly were factors in his appointment to the EMS director position in August.

“I have expressed many times my vision about the direction that EMS needs to progresss in order to serve those who may need our service. I believe that when someone calls 911 for an emergency they will get a capable, competent and, at times, a compassionate crew,” he said.

While there is not one incident that lead to his career choice, Garren said becoming a paramedic was a natural decision.

“I spent a lot of time in the Army — 22 years active and reserve,” he said. “Don’t laugh, but I grew up watching John and Roy from the TV show “Emergency” circa 1972 and wanted to be a paramedic when I was a kid. I would say that I transitioned into this job.”

Overseeing a 24/7 department with more than 70 employees and a multi-million dollar budget and years of EMS work have ingrained Garren with an attention to detail that he says carries over to his personal life.

“I have to assess everything and analyze the task or mission and perform a detailed plan of attack on everything,” he added.

NAME: Kevin “Bull” Garren. [I’m] known as Bull thanks to Larry Owens, [who] stated that I looked like Bull from “Night Court.”

AGE: 48

OCCUPATION: Director of Bartow County EMS and paramedic

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Cherokee County

EDUCATION: Cherokee High School; graduated of North Metro Technical College, which is now Chattahoochee

Tell me about you career — how did you come to be the Bartow County EMS director?

A: I was appointed as the director with the retirement of the previous director, Larry Owens. I have expressed many times my vision about the direction that EMS needs to progresss in order to serve those who may need our service. I believe that when someone calls 911 for an emergency they will get a capable, competent and, at times, a compassionate crew.

What is the one area of emergency medical services where you see the most need?

A: Increasing our readiness posture to respond to calls in this county, which does not always indicate more cost.

Is there one call that has impacted your life the most?

A: There are a few, but the one I will always remember was a small boy who had fell into a pool and had a near drowning experience. On arrival he was not breathing and did not have a pulse. We had a quick response and our intervention was rapid.

Some time later, we — EMS and Cartersville fire — got to reunite with him and his family. Knowing that you had a small part in a miracle that huge reminds us why we do what we do. Never underestimate the power of prayer; there was definitely some on that day and many more in the back of my ambulance.

EMS requirements have progressed from its beginning — the certification levels and so forth. Do you see those evolving in the future?

A: Absolutely. We have progressed so much in the last 20 years, it is a challenge to keep pace. Technology definitely has enhanced how we treat patients. Requirements are getting more extensive, and the training is getting more detailed in the area of cardiac and respiratory emergencies.

Is there a basic EMS skill you feel is vital for every resident to know? If so, what and why?

A: Basic life support — CPR, rescue breathing and general first aid. Know if your loved ones have allergies or certain medical needs to relay to the EMS and hospital staff.

What makes Bartow County special?

A: I grew up in and still live in Cherokee County. Our county has changed over the years, and has become more metropolitan, people have moved on. After working here as long as I have, you have gotten to know local folks, staff workers at the courthouse, hospital staff and, of course, patients we have treated that remember you from 20 years ago. Bartow County still has that hometown feel and, in some ways, is my second home.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

A: I am a little absentminded. Always have been, even as a kid. Keys are the worst, so I keep them tethered to my belt.

Book, movie or video game?

A: None. Hunting, fishing or skiing in Colorado, Montana or Wyoming.

Favorite meal?

A: Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a picky eater. I can scarf down anything in record time. I have a huge appetite.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things could you not live without?

A: Peanut butter, grape jelly and a loaf of bread.