Emergency Enthusiast Comes Home

Even as a young boy, Eric Swanson had emergency medicine in his blood.

When his mom moved the family to Tillamook, Ore., in 1973, to be the nurse anesthetist at what is now Tillamook County General Hospital, Swanson spent a lot of time observing emergencies at the facility.

"My first memory of Tillamook is the hospital," Swanson says, adding he and his brother waited in the lobby or in the parking lot while his mom Madeline did evening rounds. His favorite times were when she was called in for trauma cases.

"I'd sit in the lobby and watch the traumas come in," he says, recalling his boyhood fascination with emergency medicine which included wearing patches from old ambulance uniforms and watching emergency shows on TV.

At 16, Swanson became a hospital volunteer in the ambulance department. He later worked in maintenance and after a summer EMT class, became an ambulance driver at 18.

After becoming a certified Emergency Medical Technician III and attending Southwestern Adventist College, Swanson came back to Tillamook as field supervisor and paramedic at the hospital for seven years.

After that, he left TCGH and served as chief investigator for the Oregon State EMS Office for three years. During this time he also worked with the Oregon State Police SWAT Team as a tactical paramedic.

For the past 11 years, Swanson was the administrator of the Tillamook 911 District.

Last fall TCGH called him back. Larry Davy, hospital president and CEO, brought him to the hospital, "and closed the door and wouldn't let me out until we had a deal," Swanson says, laughing.

Now EMS director for the hospital's ambulance department, Swanson says, "I love this organization. It's been a huge part of my life, and it's been wonderful to be back."

On managing the only ambulance service in Adventist Health, Swanson describes it as a "dream job."

Answering nearly 3,000 community calls each year, the EMS department covers a 1,125-square-mile territory with five ambulances. "We provide excellent care in many different settings," he says.

The EMS bug appears to be contagious. His daughter, Tiffany, is a paramedic in Medford, Ore. "She called me awhile ago and said, ‘I saved a life today! I actually saved a life!' It was very gratifying," he says.

Swanson lives in Tillamook with his wife, Audra, and youngest son, Taylor.

April 01, 2009 / Adventist Health