Anyone who has needed emergency medical care in the Yates County area over the past 26 years has probably benefited from the knowledge of one quiet man — Ed Wedge Jr.

Wedge has been a driving force for EMS education in Yates County for several years, and as he approaches his 72nd birthday, he’s thinking about stepping down from the training role he has held for 26 years.

Since 1989, Wedge has taught 37 Basic Emergency Medical Technician courses in which 424 students obtained their certificates, according to state Department of Health records. Additionally, he has taught 26 Certified First Responder Classes with 276 students.

Last week, a formal ceremony was held to dedicate the training room at Penn Yan Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps to Wedge, who still plans to renew his EMT certification for another three year stint before leaving the volunteer service altogether.

A retired teacher by trade, Wedge combined his skills from the classroom and his knowledge and passion for EMS to teach EMT and CFR classes to students in Yates County.

At the corps annual dinner in May, longtime corps member Doug Paddock and past Penn Yan Ambulance Operations Manager David Dowdle announced the training room at the Penn Yan Area Vol. Ambulance Corps would be named in his honor, and last Tuesday, July 14, Board President Brian Champlin officially dedicated the training room to Wedge as family, friends, Corps members and others watched.

Calling the honor “totally unexpected,” Wedge said it’s not often that he’s at a loss for words, but upon hearing the announcement, he was. “I have really enjoyed it, but unfortunately, I’m near the end of my career,” he says.

“I wasn’t doing it for the accolades. I was doing it to make sure we have trained emergency medical technicians.” he says.

“A plaque hangs in the training room, where Ed’s smiling face looks down from the President’s Wall to remind past, and more importantly, future EMS students of what a true gift Ed has been,” explains Yates County EMS Coordinator Chris Warriner.

Doug Paddock, a member of PYAVAC from shortly after its start, and who taught classes for more than 10 years, can be credited with launching Ed on his path, according to Warriner.

Saying he has enjoyed Wedge’s friendship and guidance over the years, Paddock explained, “Ed has been extremely dedicated to Penn Yan Ambulance and regional EMS administration for many years, and has taught courses to over 700 students. The first course that Ed took was in 1978. Tad Smith and I had the pleasure of teaching that class. Since that time, I’ve had the privilege of teaching additional courses with Ed and taking courses from him. This is certainly a situation where the student excelled beyond the teacher.

“While Ed may have officially retired from teaching, he never gave it up. The EMS community is lucky to have had someone interested in teaching courses, given the increasing time involved. He has no doubt spent more time in the training room than anyone else; it’s appropriate that it be named after him,” said Paddock.

In the dedication, Champlin challenged EMS volunteers to think over all the classes they had ever taken, and to compare teaching styles they have experienced.

“Every once in a while a teacher comes along that has the desire, the command of the subject matter and that little thing that it takes to engage you, and make you think, and make you want to learn. And learn you do and you pass your tests and you get your grades or your certification and you walk away the better person for the experience,” Champlin said during the dedication.

David Dowdle, Chief Paramedic at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital Advanced Life Support (Medic 55) added, “Ed, you have truly made a positive impact on not only the people of this county, but in the state as well.”

Warriner challenges the public to think about all the lives the 700 students have touched over the years — the broken bones splinted, the hemorrhages controlled, the vital signs taken, the families comforted, the patients transported to the hospital, and the lives saved by those 700 EMS providers.

In addition to all of these classes, Wedge taught many American Red Cross classes with Mary Ann Andrews and Michael J. Healy. Many people were taught CPR, First Aid, and oxygen administration so they would be prepared to help their neighbors and our community.

He served for many years on the Finger Lakes Regional EMS Council and as a Representative to the State EMS Council, contributing to policies and protocols used throughout the adjacent counties.

Not only has Ed been active in education, but he has been active in the corps as well. Since the organization started electronic charting in 2009, Wedge has responded to 433 calls and many years he ran over 100 calls.

He served as president of the Corps from 1984 to 1990 and again from 2005 to 2007, keeping the organization headed in the right direction and molding it in his image. He held a position on the Penn Yan Ambulance Board of Directors for 33 years.

Includes reporting by Gwen Chamberlain.