By E.B. FURGURSON III
The Capital of Annapolis
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — David Badwak and Frank Dickey rode together for more than 20 years. Working side-by-side in a county ambulance unit, they helped save thousands of lives.
Around the firehouse they were called the Dynamic Duo, and probably a few other things.
“You go to work knowing every shift is going to be different,” Badwak said. “No two calls are alike.”
But now they have made their last run together.
Badwack retired after his shift on Halloween night, and Dickey will follow in the spring.
“Frank is going on April Fools’ Day. We couldn’t have planned it better,” said Badwak, 54.
He started with the Anne Arundel County Fire Department in 1977. His partner, 60, was hired two years later. Back in those days a firefighter had to work on a fire unit three years before applying to become a paramedic.
“Paramedics was an elite unit, you had to be chosen,” Badwak said.
Then the training consisted of three weeks at the community college. Now it is two years.
The two started working together in 1985. They were assigned the same shift at the South Glen Burnie firehouse, Station 26 – the busiest in the county, then and now.
They teamed up on ambulance runs there for 16 years. Then they transferred to Station 21, Harmans-Dorsey, and worked together another five years, before Dickey became a lieutenant and moved to the Harwood Lothian station.
They estimate they’ve run 20,000 calls. But ask them to pick highlights and they come up empty.
“I can’t come up with any one run,” Badwak said.
“They kind of all blend together,” Dickey said.
Then, a call rises to the surface.
“We had the train wreck in 1987 .” Dickey said.
“January 4, 1987,” Badwak said.
That one was near the Gunpowder River in Baltimore County. An Amtrak train en route from Washington D.C. to Boston derailed after plowing into a string of three Conrail locomotives at high speed, killing 16 and injuring scores of others.
“There was the plane at the airport.” Dickey said. They couldn’t remember the date. No massive injuries. Passengers slid down escape chutes after a hard landing. Badwak and Dickey triaged everyone in the BWI fire department building.
They forgot about the next one. But a young female fire department recruit came up to them one day a few years ago and asked if they remembered her.
They didn’t. She told them they had picked her up when she was 14. She had been hit by a car while riding her bike on New Cut Road. She is now a lieutenant in the fire department. Then there was the day they had three calls on the same day for kids falling out of windows.
But other than that, it is a blur. The “Dave and Frank Show” as some jokingly call it, has been running so long some area hospital nurses mix the men up.
“Hey, people call me Frank at the hospital,” Badwak said. “We’ve been interchangeable for so long.”
The pair worked together so well they really did become one, in a way.
“We complemented each other very well,” Dickey said, then chuckled. “That’s the biggest word I’ve used in 20 years.”
The pair has also handed down a wealth of information to generations of paramedics. One of their commanders at the old Station 21 attested to that.
“Dave has had a lot of younger paramedics rotating through the unit with him. He is passing a lot of knowledge on,” Lt. George Wallace said.
Over the years the two helped train scores of recruits and rookies. Some are now chiefs in the department.
The duo has helped design models of ambulances put into service over the years. They were consulted by the department on equipment placement as new ambulances came online.
“They valued our opinion,” Badwak said.
“And we appreciated being asked,” Dickey said.
The department has appreciated them too. They have loads of commendations between them. And they have respect in the house and on the road.
“A lot of people work a few years on a busy unit, then they might transfer to one that is not as busy and let the younger guys tackle it,” Wallace said. “Not them. They spent most of their careers in the busiest station in the county.”
On the road their teamwork in almost legendary.
“Their instincts were phenomenal. The action they took with patients, the decisions they made were always right,” Wallace said.
The two split up a few years back when Dickey was shifted to the Harwood/Lothian station. Badwak stayed at Harmans-Dorsey. But the department honored Badwak’s request and transferred him to that station for his last several shifts.
The Dynamic Duo rode again.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)