On the Front Lines: Tyler Stinson
Passion, adrenaline fuel his career at Lifeguard
Photos by Eric Schultz and contributed
Tyler Stinson has worked as the chief of the Lifeguard Ambulance Service in Hartselle since 2015, but he’s been around and involved in the field since he was a teenager. “I grew up around this field, so it’s in my blood,” Stinson said. “I really don’t know what else I would do.”
He said his passion stems from seeing his father serve others in similar capacities. “After high school, I worked at Wolverine for a couple months … Then I worked somewhere else building cabinet doors, and I realized, you know, plant life is not for me,” he said.
The 2007 Priceville High School graduate soon found his passion when he attended EMT school and secured his first job working on an ambulance. That’s where he has been ever since, and that’s where he has found his passion for serving the public.
It was the rush of the job that enticed Stinson at first. “I guess in the beginning, that’s probably what gets all of us into it – the adrenaline you feel on the job,” he said. “But as you do it, you don’t get that adrenaline rush like you did when you started. For me, it’s the fact that I get to go to work every day and help people who are in their most critical moments in their lives. I love that I get to do that while being able to serve my community.
“Every day is different. Every call you run is different, so you’re always faced with a new challenge; no two calls are ever the same.”
Stinson said he often responds to calls from home at night and on the weekends. He drives a Lifeguard SUV that is fully equipped with everything carried in an ambulance – except a stretcher. He even carries a Lucas machine, which aids in performing CPR on patients in cardiac arrest.
Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Stinson has found himself out in the field more often because of occasional short staffing. When he isn’t doing hands-on patient care, he manages the 35-40 full-time employees that make up Lifeguard in Morgan County.
“We run three 24-hour Advanced Life Support ambulances,” Stinson said. “We have three ambulances for the county that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that each have a paramedic and an EMT onboard at minimum.
“We have one 12-hour truck seven days a week that is ALS … and then three days a week we run a Basic Life Support truck that has two EMTs onboard that work a 16-hour shift.”
Stinson said Lifeguard has seen some challenges because of the pandemic – first, a shortage of Personal Protection Equipment, and then staffing issues.
“Those issues have mostly been resolved now, even though we don’t yet know what this year will hold,” he said. “We’re fortunate in the fact that we’re a national company that has operations in 38 different states and is supportive of the challenges we face.”
It’s not an easy job; it comes with its fair share of stress, Stinson said.
“There are the calls that you struggle with. Our profession as a whole, there’s not a lot of good training for how to handle those types of calls, and that’s something you learn how to handle on your own as you go,” he said. “Fortunately, I work for a good company that provides an Employee Assistance program, where you can reach out and go talk to somebody if you need to.”
Stinson said the job can be rewarding, too – in ways that often make the grief and stress worth it.
“Sometimes you have those patients that come back to you, and they tell you thank you, and that’s what’s rewarding,” he said. “You know, we don’t do this for the thank you’s, but every time you get one, it’s like, man, that sounds good. That made everything I went through worth it.
“Last year we had a patient that I’ve known literally my entire life that went into cardiac arrest here in town, in a salon, and we got her back. She talked to me all the way to the hospital and knew me by name.”
Stinson said reflecting on those memorable patients and being able to have a positive impact on people’s lives in their worst moments – in their most critical and most vulnerable situations – is a primary reason he does this job.
“You know the old saying: If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, that is so true in this profession,” he said.
“If wasn’t for my employees, I wouldn’t be able to do my job. They make my job easier; they make it doable. I just I have to give them some props for what they do,” he added.
In addition to his work at Lifeguard, Stinson is also a volunteer firefighter in Somerville, where his father has worked since 1985. He first began volunteering there in his early teenage years, and he said if he wasn’t on an ambulance, he would be at the fire station.
Stinson and his wife Allie have two children: Olivia, 6, and Jace, 6 months.