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It’s a Record! O’Sullivan Heads EMTs Honored by Killingworth Ambulance

By Clark Judge

(October 26, 2022) — When the Killingworth Ambulance Association (KAA) held its annual dinner on October 23, 2022, it followed a familiar script in recognizing its top three responders of 2021-22. Except this time there was nothing ordinary about what it celebrated … and not so much because of the people involved.

Because of the calls they answered.

(Photo Above, L-R, Lisa Barbour, James Fretz, Mary Robbenhaar-Fretz, Dan O’Sullivan)

Dan O’Sullivan, president of the KAA, responded to 283 of them from October, 2021 through September, 2022 … and if that seems like a lot, it’s because it is. Not only was it more than half of the 540 responses answered by the KAA during that period, it was nearly twice that of runners-up James Fretz and wife Mary Robbenhaar-Fretz.

They had 143 each, while Lisa Barbour checked in with 114.

O’Sullivan and Fretz were two of the top three responders in 2020-21, too, when 154 responses took first place. This time, however, O’Sullivan did more than lap the field. He set a KAA response record, breaking — no, obliterating — the previous gold standard of 207 set by Lisa Anderson in 2019-20.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” said Mike Haaga, the KAA’s Chief of Service. “What’s better than astounding?”

Answer: 283. Now the question: How did O’Sullivan do it?

“I just like helping,” he said, “and this is the most direct way because it involves people who are in immediate need. So it’s satisfying from that perspective.  I know it’s not for everybody, but it’s something I have the skills and inclination to do. So I make it a high priority.”

O’Sullivan typically is on call Wednesday days and Thursday nights. But, like other EMTs with the KAA, he often jumps in to cover absences when needed. That happened after Fretz underwent shoulder surgery earlier this year and missed over five months.

“For a while,” O’Sullivan said, “it looked like I might break 300 (calls). But in August and September things slowed down a little.”

O’Sullivan didn’t. One summer evening he responded when no ambulance was available for what turned out to be an automobile fatality on Route 81. O’Sullivan wasn’t on that evening’s schedule, but when he heard an urgent call for available EMTs and a request for Life Star, he voluntarily drove to the scene.

“Our ambulance had gone out (on another call),” he said, ”so I decided to go (to the accident). Sometimes I’ve done that, and I’m more in the way.  But this time I was glad I’d gone.”

O’Sullivan was able to assist with the victim who survived.

According to KAA information, responses in 2021-22 increased 19.3 percent from the 459 a year before …and that figure was up significantly from the 379 in 2019-20. When the KAA was first formed in 1971, there were fewer than 50.

Also recognized Sunday evening were Mike and Marguerite Haaga (photo above) for their 25 years of service as Killingworth Ambulance EMTs. Mike is the KAA’s Chief of Service, and Marguerite is its Vice President. With 25-year pins, the Haagas are part of a select group. They’re two of only three active Killingworth Ambulance EMTs with 25 years’ experience. Board member Mark Clifton is the third.

“This is one of those things where it’s like: Where did the time go?” said Haaga. “It just goes so fast.”

Sandy Castlevetro was also honored with the Haagas Sunday. The managing member at Shared Response Health Systems, Castlevetro has been associated with the KAA for the past 25 years.

Photos by Clark Judge

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