Dougherty County Emergency Medical Services Director Bobby Tripp has announced his retirement. Tripp has worked for Dougherty County medical services for 40 years.
ALBANY, Ga. -- It's no exaggeration to say that Bobby Tripp has emergency medical service in his blood.
His father, Ray, along with Ralph Ellington, were the first to head up the ambulance corps after Dougherty County took it over from a private firm in 1972.
That same year, the man who would later become EMS director for the next 30 years, took his first job in the emergency management field as a medic.
"It's hard to describe why I got into it. With my dad playing such an important role, I got to see how they really helped people. They changed lives every day," Tripp said.
Nearly 40 years later, Tripp is hanging up his EMS gear. He's trading in his blue Dougherty County EMS polo shirts for his loose-fitting retirement garb and looking forward to a life of travel and time with family.
"I'm just going to do some traveling, some volunteer work and take each day the good Lord gives me," Tripp said.
For a little context on Tripp's time in the EMS, when he first started, ambulances were 1964 Oldsmobile hearses, and the only real training medics had were basic first aid.
Since that time, Tripp and his staff, with the support of the Dougherty County Commission, have grown into a department that uses high-tech global positioning units, hydrolic-lift stretchers and mobile data terminals to augment a vastly better-trained corps of paramedics and technicians.
"I can honestly say that I've been fortunate to have had the support of many elected officials in the commission over the years and a series of strong administrators that have helped us get a lot accomplished here," Tripp said.
Replacing Tripp at the top of the EMS heap will be longtime assistant Greg Rowe, who has put in nearly 30 years of time with the department.
"There's a lot of security in that," Tripp said. "I can leave here without any worries ... feeling secure, because I know I'm leaving it in some very capable hands. You can't always say that."
When Tripp officially retires next week, he'll be leaving a department which, in 2011, responded to more than 20,604 calls and performed 12,300 emergency transports.
Currently, Dougherty County EMS generates roughly $2.9 million each year in revenue for the county.
As for his staff, it currently has 30 paramedics who are certified as instructors on basic or advanced cardiac care, 10 instructors in pediatric care and 10 instructors on trauma life support care.
His staff, he says, are what distinguishes the department from others around the state and region.
"This is one of those kinds of jobs that you have to love or you won't stay very long," Tripp says. "They're out here, day in and day out, saving lives and educating the public for very little money and doing it with character."