Scott Tuttle is the operations manager for Lee County EMS, and looks forward to speaking with Boca Grande residents on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at the Boca Grande Health Clinic emergency panel discussion. It isn’t often he gets to make the journey out here, and even though he’s a world traveler there are few places like Boca Grande to visit.
“I would like all the residents to have a good understanding of how their emergency services function,” he said, “and to understand the capabilities we bring to them, and how we share many of the same goals as the fire department and the health clinic.”Scott started with Lee County EMS in 1985. Since then, he has risen through the ranks from Emergency Medical Technician to paramedic, to lieutenant, to captain, to training manager and, now, operations manager.
He was born in Wurzburg, Germany, the son of a career Army officer. The family moved every two to three years, but he has had roots in Lee County since 1979.
Scott grew up all over the United States. He has lived in Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Kansas, Germany, and, of course, Florida.
“I did not have the typical hometown upbringing, but I often wonder what it would have been like,” he said. “I was 15 before I realized a civilian was not someone out of uniform. Growing up on an Army base is a great experience. When stationed at Ft. Benning, the airborne cadets would run by the house very early in the morning. When you hear a couple hundred troops running in unison and calling out cadence, it just makes you proud to be an American.”
Scott’s father was a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army, and served 20 years, including two tours in Vietnam. He retired as a lieutenant colonel.
After retiring from the Army, Scott’s dad became an air traffic controller and the family moved to Lee County in 1979.
“Mom was the glue that held the household together,” Scott said. “She was a stay-at home-mother with me and my three older brothers. I still wonder how she kept it all together, with Dad gone for two years in Vietnam and one in Korea.”
Some of Scott’s favorite memories growing up were of being with his father, fishing and camping.
“During the summer we camped about every weekend,” he said. “There is a military campground in Destin where we would go and spend a week or two living on the beach, fishing and swimming every day.” Scott was the only one of the four boys to attend all four years at the same high school – Cypress Lake High in Fort Myers. He then attended Hodges University and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in management.
He was then left with the dilemma that many college graduates face: What to do next? He tried to get into the military, but was told he wouldn’t pass the physical because of a shoulder injury he’d had surgically repaired.
“At first I wanted to build custom homes,” he said. “I worked for a carpenter in high school and enjoyed the work. One day they had a career day at school and I went to check it out. There was someone there from Lee County EMS. The idea of being a paramedic intrigued me so I started my EMT training during my senior year of high school.”
At first it was the excitement of the unknown that drew him to the job.
What was that next call going to be? Was he good enough to make a difference?
“The adrenaline rush becomes addictive pretty quick,” he said. “As the years rolled by and I grew up a little, I realized there are few more rewarding things you can do than to be engaged in caring for sick and injured people.”
He has come to consider our little piece of the coast as “home,” and spends as much time as he can boating, camping and bicycling. You can find him on his days off fishing in our area, and bicycling everywhere.
“Of all my hobbies, I enjoy bicycling the most,” he said. “My wife and I average 75 to 100 miles every weekend, and we participate in charity rides for many causes. We’re big supporters of breast cancer research. When the weather is nice, I have been known to commute to and from work, 28 miles round-trip, a few days a week on my bike as well.”
Scott is also into art. A fan of modern primitive as well as wildlife prints from Florida-based artists, he is a modest collector and favors Younger and Whitehead, to name two.
Scott gets serious, though, when he talks about providing the best emergency medical services for all residents of Lee County. He admits that Boca Grande has a unique situation, being bifurcated by the Lee/Charlotte line.
While we have our own firefighters that work strictly in Boca Grande, our paramedics do not. Instead, the primary emergency caretakers are rotated onto the island from other areas of the county.
“Boca Grande does offer a unique response area for us,” he said. “The island also is one of our lowest call volume areas in the county. This enables us to rotate crews from our busy areas to the south, to Boca Grande. What this does for the residents and visitors of Boca Grande is to provide highly-experienced paramedics and EMTs who come from very busy areas of the county and have very sharp clinical skills, because they have the opportunity to hone these skills in the busy areas of the county.”
LCEMS also operates a 24-hour EMS helicopter service, known as MEDSTAR. Their primary aircraft is a Bell 430 with single-pilot IFR capabilities. The aircraft is staffed with one pilot and two critical care paramedics.
“We are committed to the air program,” Scott said. “We have begun installing point-in-space-GPS-approach systems on the barrier islands. This system will enable us to respond with the helicopter in conditions with a ceiling as low as 400 feet and visibility down to one mile. Boca Grande will be receiving one of the GPS approach systems. We also have a BO 105 VFR aircraft that serves as a backup to our Bell 430.”
Scott said that mainland emergency services are working with the Boca Grande Fire Department in a symbiotic relationship. They are currently helping them obtain Advanced Life Support Non-Transport status, which will enable Boca Grande Fire Department paramedics to perform advanced procedures, should LCEMS be off the island when another call comes in.
“LCEMS has a very long-standing relationship with the Boca Grande Health Clinic,” he said. “We share the same goals of providing the absolute best care for the citizens and visitors to the island. People look to you when things in their lives are going terribly wrong. It is a tremendous amount of trust the public gives to first responders. I like to think we must work to earn that trust, every single day, every single call.”
The Boca Grande Health Clinic emergency panel discussion will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. in the Boca Grande Community Center auditorium.
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