(BLOOMFIELD) - George Ockerman, of Bloomfield, has seen a lot of good and bad during his 35 years with the Greene County Ambulance Service .
The Greene County Daily World reports, among the good things was delivering two babies and helping countless other patients get needed medical treatment.
He's witnessed death more times than he would like to remember, but he recognized long ago that dying people were also part of the job he's done for more than three decades.
Ockerman, a member of the county ambulance crew since 1978, was honored last week with a luncheon gathering of his ambulance service buddies.
Ockerman, who's been off work on medical leave since September, had planned to move to the new ambulance unit at the Taylor Township Fire Department in the WestGate at Crane Technology Park. However, medical issues prompted him to take early retirement at age 53.
George is also planning to scale back his duties with two fire departments - Richland-Taylor and Bloomfield - both departments he has been a member of more than 30 years.
He's an ex-fire chief at Richland-Taylor and formerly served as assistant chief at Bloomfield.
He's also a former member of Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department in Indianapolis.
Ockerman plans to continue working at Jenkins and Sons Funeral Home on a part-time basis, a position he's done for the last six years.
Ockerman serves as Chaplain to the Greene County Sheriff's Department merit officers and is active as a lay speaker at Mineral United Methodist Church.
Ockerman, who is a basic EMT, will officially end his tenure with the Greene County EMS at the end of this month.
For Ockerman, he says its been a good ride made possible by the former EMS director, the late Frank Foley, who first hired him while he was still a student at Bloomfield High School to work nights and weekends.
The 1979 BHS graduate went to Ivy Tech to pursue a degree in welding because there were several active coal mines in the area and still worked part-time with the EMS. Ockerman has been with the ambulance service since 1980 serving more than 33 years full-time.
When asked what drew him to what turned out to be a career with the ambulance service, Ockerman says growing up he liked to hang out at the old fire station on North Franklin Street where the Bloomfield ambulance was stationed.
At that time there was only one 24-ambulance in the county and it was stationed at Linton. All of the rest of the ambulance stations at Bloomfield, Solsberry and Jasonville ran from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. After 10 p.m. and weekends, it was a volunteer service where the employees carried a 'beeper' and answered runs that way.
"Things were a lot different then," he noted.
George remembers being assigned to the 'old Emergency 7' unit, which was a used funeral home hearse that was stationed in Linton.
Ockerman worked at the Greene County General Hospital Station for five years, then came to Bloomfield and ended up at Solsberry.
Ockerman, who been married 34 years to his wife Debbie, says over the year's he's been driven to be a public servant as a first responder by his care for people in Greene County.
Looking back, George says he's been pleased with what he's done.
"I've met a lot of people and I've worked with I don't know how many people throughout the county. I've had some good experiences and I've had some bad experiences. I've seen things from the birth of babies, which I have done, to unfortunately seeing people dying," George said. "If you could imagine it, I've probably seen it. I want to thank the Foley family because if it wasn't for Frank Foley, I wouldn't have had a career . I just want to thank the county for letting me serve them for the last 35 years."
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