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Martin, ‘father’ of HC EMS, dies

Martin, ‘father’ of HC EMS, dies
Martin, ‘father’ of HC EMS, dies
Paul (Pete) Martin, right, was honored in June 2011 for his 50 years of service during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Dept. that Martin helped start. Also pictured is then-fire chief Ned Wiseman. File photo/Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor

Paul (Pete) Martin, known by many in Harrison County’s Emergency Medical Services as the “father of Harrison County EMS,” died Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, at his home. He was 89.

Gary Kleeman, who retired in 2018 as EMS director after 24 years, referred to Martin as that during the dedication of the EMS station, named in Martin’s honor, on the hospital campus in late 2010.

Martin said during the open house for the nearly 8,000-square-foot facility that he signed the first EMS contract for service — one paragraph on a single sheet of paper — in 1977.

“It must have been a good paragraph, because we’re still here,” he said.

Kleeman said he first met Martin when he interviewed for the EMS position in 1994 and, though they initially butted heads over ambulance runs, Kleeman said they “became best buddies.”

“Pete never became stuck in his ways,” Kleeman said. “He was always one to read national fire and EMS magazines and go to conferences in order to keep up with what was going on in the rest of the world” when it came to emergency services.

“He’d bring that knowledge back to Harrison County,” he added.

Born in Salem on June 21, 1930, Martin eventually made New Salisbury his home. He was one of the first EMTs in the state and one of three men who founded the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Dept. in 1961. He served in various capacities, including chief and assistant chief.

Kleeman said Martin led a movement to get 911 phone services in Harrison County and later did the same for enhanced 911 phone services. During his time on the hospital board, from 1976 to 2012, Martin pushed for paramedic level care for the county, which was implemented in 1996.

Martin served on the fire department until the end of his life. He received his gold membership card during the 50-year anniversary of the fire department in mid-2011. He won several awards, too, including the 2002 EMT of the Year for Outstanding Service and Dedication and the 2016 Emergency Medical Technician Emeritus Award from the State of Indiana.

Emergency services was just a portion of Martin’s life. He was a 40-year Rotary member, a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and was a Torch Bearer in Harrison County during the state’s Bicentennial in 2016. He and his wife, the former Lorine C. Uhl, established the Pete and Lorine Martin Family Building Fund at the Harrison County Community Foundation in 2016.

“It doesn’t seem that many people are willing to give of their personal and family time to helping others,” Kleeman said. “Pete was someone who was always progressive and not afraid to venture out into unchartered waters.”

Martin’s funeral was Saturday at St. Michael Catholic Church in Bradford with interment in the church cemetery. As the hearse made its way from Swarens Funeral Home in Ramsey to the church, it passed under — and briefly paused — an American flag suspended over S.R. 64 by Harrison County’s two ladder fire trucks.