|McNeal looking forward to a career change — retirement|
|Monday, October 21, 2013 12:05 AM|
BY NANCY SPENCER
McNeal has served with the Delphos Fire and Rescue Department since 1978, first at a part-time EMT and finally as fire chief.
Public service runs in his family.
“My dad was a volunteer firefighter in Spencerville and my great-uncle, Paul Klinger, was a fire chief in Delphos,” McNeal explained.
The Lima Senior grad’s interest in being an EMT was sparked by a buddy he reunited with while serving in the Air Force in Germany in 1976.
“I ran across an old friend while in the service and when we got back stateside, we ran EMT for a private company in Arkansas,” he said.
Things were a little different back then.
“We had an old van with a cot in the back and a tackle box with first aid supplies,” McNeal recalled. “The tackle was also the seat for the guy in the back with the patient. You only had to be certified through the Red Cross.”
McNeal got an “easy out” of the service and found work in several places in Lima and Delphos before settling in at New Delphos Manufacturing.
“I decided to go to school to become and EMT and took the 3-to-4-month training, worked a couple hours in a hospital and passed the test,” McNeal said. “Then I used my VA money to go paramedic school.”
When several full-time openings came up in Delphos, McNeal talked it over with his wife, Sue, and they decided he should take the test.
“Chief John Clark talked to me and said I had to discuss it with my wife because my life would be very different,” McNeal said. “I would be working different hours and holidays. I made the right choice. New Delphos Manufacturing closed several years later and I was already in another career.”
Working as an EMT has its ups and downs. McNeal said it’s great when you can help someone and get to the hospital for treatment and it turns out well. Other times, it’s just not so.
“My first traffic accident was a young high school student who rolled his vehicle and was killed,” he said. “I just want to help people and its hard when you lose someone or can’t help them.”
McNeal’s has seen both life and death on the job and it’s changed him as a person, a husband and a father.
“This is the best job; it’s the worst job. We see people at their very worst and I’ve also helped five babies into the world,” he said. “My first code was a small infant about 6 weeks old. My middle son was about 1 week old at the time. From then on, I would go in my children’s rooms and check on them when I got home to make sure they were OK.”
Through it all, it’s the drive to help that got him through.
“We don’t have jobs like a lot of people,” he said. “You get that call at 2 o’clock in the morning and you don’t want to get out of bed but you get up and do your job because it’s what you do.”
McNeal was promoted to platoon chief in March 1992 and then chief in November 2002. He and his wife have three children and one grandchild. He’s already got a few plans for the next stage in his life.
“I’ll take some online classes to get out of the fire service and I’m looking forward to camping and babysitting the grandson,” McNeal said.