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Albany County Medic Retires After Over 30 Years as a First Responder

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

An Albany County Paramedic retired this April after many years serving different communities as a first responder.

Paramedic Susan Kuhne backed her medic car into the bay and called out of service on her radio one last time before going into retirement from Albany County EMS on Sunday, April 23rd.

Fellow coworkers and first responders from Albany County Paramedics, Albany County Sheriff’s Ambulance, Ravena Rescue, Delmar-Bethlehem EMS, Coeymans Hollow Fire and New Baltimore Fire helped with a walk-out ceremony for Kuhne at the Ravena Rescue Squad building.

Kuhne started her career in 1992 with Colonie EMS after seeing an ad on TV.

“Years ago, Colonie EMS used to run an ad on the television recruiting members,” Kuhne said. “In one of the ads on TV they closed the back door on the ambulance and it said “Mobile Intensive Care Unit” and I said ‘Oh, what’s that?'."

The ad sent her to venture to their main station and enroll in the EMT class, which was free to residents and all she had to spend on supplies was $11.

“I didn’t know anything about EMS or fire departments or anything,” she said.

While working in EMS, she was stationed in a room inside the Latham Firehouse and the firefighters kept trying to convince her to join the fire department as well. 

“I was like ‘well girls can’t be firefighters,’ because I didn’t think so because this was back in 92 or 93,” she said. “They said ‘sure you can,’ so for six dollars I filled out the application and then I became a member of the Latham Fire Department.”

She says she was the first in her family since nobody in her family was involved in EMS or Fire.

When she was in her first year as a brand new EMT, she recalled a story of a patient who was talking to them but didn’t feel well and suddenly went into cardiac arrest on the stretcher on the way out of the house.

After watching a paramedic shock the patient once and then come back to life, Kuhne says that moment is what led her to train to become a paramedic.

Her first paid job was in the City of Poughkeepsie, NY, with Alamo EMS.

“The year I started down there it was voted the most violent city in New York State,” she said. “There were shootings, stabbings and drug overdoses.”

Kuhne later became a flight medic and also became a part of the New York Urban Search and Rescue Team as a medical specialist, serving time at the site of the World Trade Center after the Attacks on 9/11.

“At Ground Zero when we realized it was becoming more of a recovery than a rescue, I had operated a fiber-optic camera and searched voids for people,” she said. “The team is really awesome and I think a lot of people should be involved with that.”

In 2015 or 2016 she started her employment with Albany County Sheriff’s EMS Division as a paramedic.

“I’ve learned so much from every different patient, every different family, all the different people that I’ve worked with,” she said.

She says the amount of love she’s experienced and making positive changes have been the highlights of her entire career.

“There've been so many fantastic calls where, because of teamwork and training, people have just made out well when they were in the most dire consequences.”

She stressed the importance of joining your local EMS or fire department and seeing what they’re all about, including explorer or junior programs for younger adults.

“Before I got into this, I didn’t know anything about it,” she said. “I never attended any open houses because I didn’t think that I would ever have anything to do with it or that I wasn’t the type of person they were looking for.”

After over 30 years in emergency services, Kuhne has decided to retire as a paramedic with Albany County, however, she still continues to work a separate job and is employed as a NYS Licensed Massage Therapist.

She was in school for Clinical Massage Therapy before working for Albany County, but had to close her office. She is now back working as a Licensed Massage Therapist and continuing to help others.

“A lot of the stuff that I’ve had the privilege to be involved with over the years is just amazing to me,” Kuhne said. “It’s been a really neat and interesting 30 years.”

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THOMAS MARRA Correspondent

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