Connecticut Post (Sunday)

A retired radio DJ becomes a EMT to help others

- By Serenity Bishop

WESTPORT — Larry Kleinman has always carried an innate want to help people. For years, he would drive by emergency scenes or car crashes and feel the urge to help whoever needed it.

As Kleinman begin to think about retirement, he also sought a chance to go to Emergency Medical Technician school.

Now, 10 years after retiring from the radio disc jockey and computer programmer jobs, Kleinman is an EMT at the Westport Volunteer EMS, where he has been for the last eight years. He has responded to thousands of calls.

Kleinman said outside of raising his children, it is the “most rewarding thing” he’s ever done in his life.

“As an EMT, we see people who, if they’re not having the worst day of their lives, it’s one of the top 10 worst days of their lives,” he said. “We see people when they’re in trouble or they’re sick or hurt and being a part of this team, I get to go out and make the situation a little bit better.”

Kleinman said that not only is the work rewarding, but it is also an “incredible honor” to work with other talented and dedicated volunteers, who believe in the same goal and mission as he does.

The feeling was shown to be mutual last week, when Kleinman was awarded two different awards during the Westport Volunteer EMS monthly training meeting.

Kleinman first received the President's Volunteer Service Award, which is presented by the Office of the President of the United States and AmeriCorps to recognize a lifelong commitment to building a stronger nation through community service. Kleinman had logged 4,000 hours of volunteer service since becoming an EMT in Westport.

The second award Kleinman received was the Westport Crew Chief of the Year Award, which is voted on and selected by his peers.

“I was not expecting either one of them,” Kleinman said. “I was surprised to say the least.”

“It’s an honor to serve with these people,” he added. “It’s also very humbling to have them think I deserve to become crew chief of the year because there’s a number of crew chiefs to choose from. It’s a quite an honor.”

Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service President Mike Burns said Kleinman is an exceptiona­l and dedicated person deserving of these awards and his logged volunteer hours vastly exceed the minimum 4,000 hours required for the President’s Lifetime Achievemen­t Award.

“Larry has demonstrat­ed his skills, abilities and compassion in thousands of 911 medical emergency calls,” Burns said. “The community and our organizati­on are extremely fortunate to have an exceptiona­l and dedicated individual like Larry Kleinman available and ready to respond to emergencie­s and provide community education.”

He said naming him Westport crew chief of the year was an easy choice that many people agreed with.

“Being a crew chief in this organizati­on takes a lot — a lot of time, a lot of motivation, a lot of excellent decision making skills, a lot of caring and a lot of thick skin,” he said. “Larry Kleinman fits the bill on all of those traits and then some.”

Burns said Kleinman is one of those people who not only deserves this award, but also deserves to be regularly thanked for all he does.

“Kleinman possesses the kind of spirit and dedication that we should all look to emulate,” Burns said.

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