Randy Lesher began his career in the ambulance service at age 16 in Cañon City.
Now, 49 years later, after watching training, treatment and technology expand, the head of Thompson Valley Emergency Medical Services in Loveland is considering retirement.
Friends and colleagues say Lesher is a born leader who has provided top-notch training for the emergency medicine professionals on his staff and the same level of care for patients. He is caring, full of integrity and, at the same time, someone who demands and inspires excellence.
“The general belief is that if you treat people humanely, you will make a difference in their lives,” said Bambi Brady, Lesher’s friend and colleague. “He lives and breathes this for everyone he meets, everyone he treats, everyone he teaches. For me, that is priceless. »
The start of a 49-year career
As a teenager, Lesher’s first job was at a funeral home in Cañon City. At the time, funeral homes doubled as ambulance services, and when he got his driver’s license at 16, Lesher found himself behind the wheel for emergency medical calls. He still remembers the first routine medical incident, May 5, 1973.
The following year, he earned his first certification as an emergency medical technician, and Lesher’s service and continuing education didn’t stop there. He continued to grow as a doctor, changing with time and technology and, after taking charge, ensuring that those who served with him did so as well.
“He’s like an encyclopedia of EMS,” said James Robinson, deputy chief at TVEMS, a career doctor who came out of retirement to work with Lesher. “He was there at the beginning of his origins, through all of his transitions and changes…He was part of his transformation into who he is today.”
At the age of 21, Lesher started his own ambulance service in Cañon City. He then led American Medical Response in the Pueblo area before, in 2000, coming to Loveland as a division manager for TVEMS.
Making a mark on TVEMS
In his 22 years here, Lesher made his mark, growing the service from 3.5 stations to six, seeing the call load more than triple and leading a team that was involved in providing medical training in the community, placing automatic external defibrillators around the community and providing vans to help transport patients instead of ambulances in certain sensitive situations.
Under his leadership, TVEMS launched the Cares program, which connects people in need to services beyond basic emergency medicine. Staff members focus on people who often call 911 for very specific needs because they don’t know where to turn. They connect these residents with the care they need, helping them and reducing emergency calls at the same time.
Additionally, Lesher has worked to change the way his team handles cardiac emergencies. Physicians are now trained and equipped to call out to the field if a patient needs to go to a cardiac catheterization lab, get them straight to where they need to be instead of making extra stops at the nearest emergency room to a reference and save valuable time.
“Every second counts,” Lesher said.
And during the pandemic, his team showed up every day, responding to homes and businesses when needed. At the height of the emergency, they were even administering antibodies to emergency responders and others in need in their homes to help mitigate the effects of COVID.
These are just a few of the ways Lesher has led the ambulance service to provide top notch care.
Provide excellent care
Cardiologist Jason Hatch said many other emergency medical agencies in the area come to TVEMS for training, and he praised the quality of care provided by Loveland-based doctors, all under the guidance of Lesher and his colleagues. high standards and expectations.
“He’s doing what’s right for the patients and not for the outcomes of the health care system, and I’ve always been impressed with that,” Hatch said, adding, “They’re so good. They have the latest technologies and their teams are up to date. It is his direction. These are the expectations he has for them. He does a good job and it shows in the level of care for people here.
Although he didn’t enter emergency medical services through the traditional route, Lesher said he quickly realized the importance of the service to the community and how much it truly resonates with the men and women who respond to emergency calls for the sole purpose of helping.
“Even if you don’t change someone’s life, you were there for them,” Lesher said. “I think little Jimmy Dickinson said this, ‘If you find a turtle on a fence post, somebody put it there.’ I say (to my team), be the helper, no matter the outcome, you are going to help someone get over an obstacle.
A few people have described Lesher as someone with a crisp outer shell and a caring heart on the inside. Brady said that’s why she calls the chef a brownie.
“He’s a badass when it has to be,” she said. “He’s a badass, and he gets things done, but inside there’s pure compassion.”
Robinson described Lesher as a “wise sage”, who teaches and leads by example, adding, “An unwavering attention to caring for people and his integrity are ingrained in the culture of this place.”
Leaving September 30
Lesher announced he would retire on September 30, giving the ambulance service six months’ notice to find a replacement. More details on this process will be released later.
But according to him, after 49 years, it is time to hang up his medical equipment and spend time with his family, to travel, to take the time to enjoy the things in life.
“If I go another year, I have to say I’ve been in emergency medical services for 50 years, and that makes me look old,” Lesher said. “Every year I’m here, I have a vision for something new. My vision is getting a little blurry.
His vision and direction, his colleagues say, will stay with the ministry in the foundations he has laid for the future.