State trooper wins national paramedic award

October 02, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

Tfc. Walter A. Kerr was a volunteer fireman at age 16, and knew then that he wanted to become a pilot.

Now, at 34, the Maryland state trooper is the National Flight Paramedic of the Year.

As a fixed-wing pilot who already knew firefighting techniques, he quickly saw that paramedic training could lead to a paid career.

"Everything just came together when I joined the Maryland State Police" six years ago, Trooper Kerr said Friday. "I've combined three hobbies, really, and now they are my life."

The trooper, who lives in Churchville, will receive the award at the National Flight Paramedics Association's annual convention Oct. 17 in Detroit. It is the second straight year that a Maryland trooper has won the award from the National Flight Paramedic's Association.

Trooper Kerr works out of the Maryland State Police Aviation Division at Martin State Airport in Middle River.

He said he was lured into his career because of a fascination with airplanes and flying as a boy in Delaware. His three brothers are volunteer firefighters.

Trooper Kerr has flown 1,742 missions in six years, including 27 air rescues and 274 law enforcement flights.

In August, his peers honored him as the state's top flight paramedic. His national award was announced Thursday.

Tfc. Steven F. Proctor of Germantown won the national award in 1993, after being credited with capturing one of the suspects in the widely publicized Pam Basu carjacking case in Howard County.

Both troopers earned their national honors in competition with about 1,500 flight paramedics from all 50 states, Trooper Kerr said. The association's award is given for local and national work in promoting those who specialize in air rescues, rapid prehospital care and law enforcement.

In 1989, Trooper Kerr received the Superintendent's Commendation for an aerial rescue of two canoeists who capsized in the Gunpowder River.

In January 1993, he received a Governor's Commendation for the night aerial rescue of two women clinging to a sailboat that was being battered by a storm in the Chesapeake Bay.

Trooper Kerr cited a Sept. 6 incident as one of his most satisfying medical missions.

A 16-year-old Stoneleigh boy had fallen from the roof of a van that was being driven in circles on the Towson High School school parking lot, he said.

"The young man had severe head trauma," he said. "He was near death when we arrived, but the invasive [medical] procedures we were able to do right there and then get him to the [Maryland Shock Trauma Center] within three minutes didn't just save his life, it meant he can sit here and carry on a conversation. Within six months, his life should be pretty much back to normal.

"His age, aggressive prehospital treatment and rapid transport all combined for a successful ending," the trooper said.

"Trooper 1st Class Kerr is not only a dedicated and decorated trooper-paramedic, he is an outstanding teacher," said Col. Larry W. Tolliver, the state police superintendent, who announced the award. "He maintains the highest level of prehospital care certification both as a practitioner and instructor, making him invaluable to the Maryland State Police."

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