What's your name and current position?
Ryan Koehler is a paramedic/firefighter for the Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD), based at station #7 (I-35 and West Pennway Street).
What's your background in EMS?
Ryan has been with KCFD for seven years. Prior to working for KCFD, Ryan worked for Metropolitan Ambulance Services Trust (MAST) and in law enforcement for the Grandview Police Department. He completed the fire academy at Johnson County before working for John Knox Village and moving to Chicago and Texas.
What is your "superhero" power when it comes to taking care of children?
Ryan recognizes that prior to having his own child, taking care of children made him uncomfortable. At this point in his life and career, he feels more capable of connecting with pediatric patients and their parents.
How do you use that "power," talent or skill to help your pediatric patients?
Raising a son diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus, Ryan identifies with the stress many parents experience as they help manage their child’s disease process. He makes every effort to care for every pediatric patient as he would his own child; understanding how this also brings comfort to the patient’s parent(s).
Is there one particular patient that you transported to Children's Mercy that stands out in your mind?
About two years ago, Ryan’s son needed medical attention, and Lee’s Summit Fire Department was notified to assist. His son’s blood glucose was 43 g/dL. Ryan recalls how it felt to be the parent relying on EMS to care for his sick child.
How have your past experiences working in pediatrics affected how you care for kids in the prehospital setting or in your personal life?
Over the years, Ryan has learned a lot about diabetes management for the pediatric patient. He is quickly able to recognize symptoms of a diabetic emergency. His son uses an insulin pump and he can monitor his blood glucose levels in real time. Understanding how glucose levels can fluctuate during growth spurts and times of illness has taught Ryan a lot about the endocrine system.
Ryan is also a Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) instructor. Teaching the course keeps him updated on how best to care for kids in an emergency.
Can you share a little about your personal life?
Ever since Ryan was a young child, he knew he’d have a career in either the military, law enforcement or as a firefighter. Due to a pre-existing medical condition, he was unable to join the military.
While he enjoyed his experiences working for EMS in Chicago and as an instructor for a tactical medical course with the border patrol in El Paso, Ryan recognizes that Kansas City will always be his home.
These days, Ryan’s full-time roles include being a father to his son, Paxton (four years old), a partner to his girlfriend and a paramedic/firefighter for KCFD.
What activities do you enjoy when you're not working?
Ryan enjoys exercising, spending time with family and friends, golfing and hunting.
What's the most rewarding thing about the work you do?
According to Ryan, the most rewarding part about the work he does is being able to help parents when their child is sick. He credits his ability to give great care to past interactions with wonderful health care providers who set great examples. He humbly states his goal is “to just try to pay that forward to others”.
The past few months have been difficult for all in health care. Do you have any words of advice for your fellow EMS providers?
Ryan’s best advice for any fellow EMS provider is to always use The Golden Rule and treat others the way you’d want to be treated. With that, he makes every effort to keep a mentality of serving others at the forefront of the work he does. Ryan admits preventing provider burnout can be really difficult, but in the field of EMS, it is an important time to truly help each other when possible.