Conrad Castonguay died this week at 81. In 1992-93, he helped teach my paramedic class. Pharmacology was his specialty. He wasnâ€™t a paramedic, but he knew what he was talking about and we paid him mind. He was a challenging instructor, and took his work seriously. It became an honor for paramedics to say they were his students.
That was 24 years ago when he was 57. The last time I saw him was in 2003 at a funeral for Dr. Philip Stent who was the medical director of my paramedic class. Dr. Stent was also the state OEMS Medical Director, and I had worked with him when I was the Executive Assistant at the State Health Department from 1991-1995, just before I started full time as a paramedic. He was instrumental in creating our state trauma system and in moving paramedicine into the modern era.
There are many paramedics still out on the street today who remember both men, and are grateful for having known them. We, as paramedics, are a collection of all the knowledge and insight we have been shown along our paths. As we have been taught, so we teach others. I was thinking the other day of all the paramedics I have precepted and all the paramedic students I have had ride with me over the last two plus decades. Sure there were days when I am tired and cranky, but for the most part I have always tried to pass on what I know, what I have been taught, and that includes what Conrad Castonguay and Phillip Stent taught me. Professionalism, knowing your trade, caring about being good at what you do.
Our time is limited, both in the field, and on this earth. But our lessons are passed on, as we pass on the lessons we have been taught.
Conrad Castonguay and Philip Stent ride the streets with us still.