Citizen of the Week

Valley paramedic honored as everyday hero

Valley paramedic honored as everyday hero

He may have been honored last week as an “everyday hero” by the American Red Cross, but Snoqualmie paramedic Bill Barnes says he’s only doing his job.

Barnes, a duty officer and trainer for Medic One, received the medical rescue award from the Red Cross of King and Kitsap counties, sponsored by Overlake Hospital and Medical Center, at the twelfth annual Heroes Breakfast, held Thursday, April 10, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

The recognition stemmed from Barnes’ efforts in saving the life of an 18-year-old woman, who suffered a cardiac arrest at a pizza restaurant in Renton in September of 2006.

“The bottom line is that the survival chain worked for her,” said Barnes, who was among the dispatchers, firefighters and paramedics who helped the woman survive.

“That’s how you always want it to go,” he said.

As a paramedic for nearly 13 years, Barnes has seen his fair share of danger.

“Anytime somebody calls 911, the dispatcher looks on screen and says, ‘Does this equal police, or something else?’” he said. “If it’s a medical problem, the fire department is dispatched within seconds of the call. As the dispatcher investigates further, they make the decision to send advanced life support or not.”

Local fire departments usually handle minor injuries and medical problems, while paramedics deal with terrible wrecks, serious medical emergencies and rescues.

Barnes grew up in a firefighting family, and is the son and grandson of firefighters. As a teenage Fire Explorer, he learned the ins and outs of the trade, and though he studied oceanography in college, the career of firefighter and emergency responder drew him back.

“I’ve been a public servant since I was 14,” he said. “It’s what I do.”

“I’ve worked in the private sector,” he added, “as a waiter for three months. It wasn’t right for me. It didn’t feel right.”

“Public service kind of runs in the blood.”

• Do you know Valley residents who deserve recognition for their good work? Nominate them for Citizen of the Week, an award co-sponsored by the Valley Record and Replicator Graphics. Send your ideas to