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Longtime firefighter the face of first aid in Sherman

September 12, 2013
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

By Eric Tichy

SHERMAN - Bob Crane concedes the Stanley Hose Company in Sherman is like a second home to him.

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Photo by Eric Tichy
Bob Crane has been EMS Captain with the Stanley Hose Company in Sherman for 40 years. He joined the fire department in 1961, and has been heavily involved with patient care in the community.

A first responder since 1961, he's pretty comfortable in an ambulance, too.

"It's really a group effort. It's about working as a team," said Crane, 70, who for decades has heavily been involved in emergency medical services. "It's just something that I really enjoy."

Crane knew early on he wanted to help others; he took a first aid class in 1966 and an emergency medical technician class in 1971.

Hoping to advance his skills in emergency services, Crane became one of the first firefighters in Sherman to became an advanced emergency medical technician. He has retained his critical care status ever since.

"I think it's important to keep up-to-date and learn new things," Crane told The Post-Journal inside the fire department.

Following a 13-month stint in Korea with the Army, Crane returned to Sherman. Aside from working at a local mill early on in his life, Crane got a full-time job at WCA Hospital as an emergency room technician. He held the job for 20 years, helping staff with patients in the ER.

"It was a great job. I got to do all sorts of things," Crane said.

Wanting to take his interest in patient care a step further, Crane got a part-time job at Alstar Ambulance.

His career really took off when he became a flight medic with Starflight helicopter. "We would respond to all kinds of things," he said. "We would fly to accidents and also do transports to other hospitals. It was a lot of fun."

While at the hospital, Crane used his stature in the fire department and became a liaison between the two. He set up meetings between emergency squads and the area's medical director.

Crane and his family briefly moved to Jamestown when his two sons attended Jamestown Community College. The family eventually moved back, and Crane continued his service in the fire department.

"A lot has changed in EMS, some good and some bad," he said. "The training and recertification that is required today is very time-consuming and has unfortunately caused a great loss in EMTs.

"Don't get me wrong, new updates and training are good. But I personally think that some of this is starting to go too far."

As with most first responders with 50 years or more of service, Crane has trouble describing certain calls. One fire in particular claimed the life of an infant. He also was one of the first firefighters on the scene of a head-on accident on Interstate 86 in its earlier days.

"Back then the interstate was just two lanes," he said. "This guy drifted across and hit a tractor trailer head on. He was ejected onto the road and another car came by and hit him."

"Some of those calls stick with you forever," he said.

Crane has received numerous awards for his service to the community. In 1983, he was named firefighters of the year in Sherman and in Chautauqua County. He also was named Sherman community "Man of the Year" in 2011.

His status in the community is well documented - none more evident than Sherman's new ambulance that was dedicated to him and a fellow member.

"He's been very dedicated in EMS and has touched many lives," said Julius Leone, Chautauqua County fire coordinator. "Bob is the type of guy you want to try and hang on to for as long as possible."

Crane's enthusiasm for helping others is apparent as well. During a recent interview, Sherman was dispatched to assist Ripley firefighters with an EMS call. Crane couldn't help but cut the interview short, although he was able to finish a few more questions.

"Sometimes you have to drop what you're doing and go," he said.



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