From volunteer to chief, Eric Burns leads Tri-Village Rescue Services into a successful future

Chief Eric Burns, of Tri-Village Rescue Services, has risen from a volunteer to his current position to help lead his department into the future.
Burns said he started his EMS career in 1988 as a volunteer EMT while he was in college working on a degree in environmental health and safety.
“I also was able to take my paramedic class in the evening through one of the hospitals in the area,” he said.
Burns worked in the private sector as a human resources manager while continuing to volunteer as a paramedic with Tri-Village during the weekends. In 2002, the trustees of Tri-Village decided it was time to hire a full-time chief and Burns was given the role.
Burns said his agency averages 450-500 calls annually while covering a 120-square-mile area across four villages (New Madison, Palestine, Hollansburg and Wayne Lakes). The townships of Harrison, Neave, Butler and Liberty also are covered by the department.
The agency employs 24 part-timers, including seven paramedics and 17 EMTs. Burns is the only full-time employee of the department. Tri-Village runs two Advanced Life Support ambulances, a special operations vehicle and a staff vehicle.
Over Burns’ experience in EMS, he said his favorite part has been working hands-on to assist patients.
“I’ve always loved patient care, ever since I started in EMS,” he said. “When people call 911, they are having a bad day, and we as EMS professionals need to remember that we are being given a lot of trust by these people to help them. We are given very personal information and we see parts of their lives that they don’t show just anyone. I feel as an EMS professional, I need to respect that patient and share their concern for their health.”
Burns said one of his favorite types of calls is to help the elderly, especially veterans.
“One veteran, even at 93-years-old he can remember each of the names of the soldiers he lost,” He said. “All of our patients deserve the best care.”
Burns said the most challenging part of his job is staffing.
“About 10 years ago, we had tons of people, but today, departments are struggling to fill their schedules,” he said. “We have to compete with other departments to keep staff and young people aren’t going into our field because of the education requirements and the pay. Let’s face it, people can find other jobs that more than EMS does without all the stress, long hours and low pay.”
Burns said he is proud his agency is a member of the Ohio EMS Chiefs Association because of the networking opportunity.
“It has opened multiple doors for me and given me the opportunity to see how other organizations are run,” he said. “I have become more involved in the politics of EMS since joining OEMSCA.”
Burns sits on three different state committees and said he has enjoyed meeting EMS chiefs and administrators across the state.
“I think the relationships that we build at our organizational meetings as well as at our annual conference are invaluable,” he said. “I hope that our organization keeps growing and we become as active as the Ohio Fire Chiefs organization. I hope we become a leader on EMS legislation in Ohio, making our voices heard on the national level as well. I feel the more we work at getting legislation passed, the more our occupation will be recognized, and our organization will be recognized as one that makes positive changes for Ohio EMS.”
Burns said new products and technology are important in improving the capability of himself and his staff.
“Doing 12 leads in the field was never thought of when I went to paramedic school back in 1989,” he said. “Or having a camera at the end of the intubation blades to show your location, these are things that make our jobs so much easier.”
Burns said he greatly appreciates the dedication and hard work put forth by his staff.
“We are a small farming community and we do rely a lot on the local providers to keep back-up ambulances staffed,” he said. “My staff is also great at working within our community, showing pride in working with Tri-Village Rescue Services. We are the only department with a dedicated vehicle for mass casualty and fire rehab in our county.”
Burns said the department is very accommodating to civic organizations, including by allowing them to use the agency’s conference center.
“Our policy is that we are nothing without our community behind us,” he said. “We are very frugal, and we do what we can to improve our building and keep up with maintenance to our equipment to save taxpayer dollars.”
Burns said he’s proud of his team.
“I can and always will brag on my staff and how they step up to make sure we can cover our districts to keep our residents healthy and safe,” he said.