Ted McFarlane, the deputy chief of the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Department, retired on Nov. 3, after three decades of public service to the area.
Today, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce will honor McFarlane's commitment and career by giving him the 2001 Buford M. Watson Jr. Public Service Award at the chamber's annual meeting.
McFarlane's career in emergency medical services (EMS) began in 1969 as a part-time ambulance driver for what was then a private ambulance company in Lawrence that operated under contract with the county.
After completing his undergraduate degree in civil engineering at Kansas University, McFarlane was accepted into the KU School of Law.
After completing his law degree and being admitted to the Kansas Bar Assn., McFarlane made the ambitious goal of providing paramedic level ambulance service to the community.
On Dec. 24, 1974, the county took over the struggling private ambulance operation and the Douglas County Ambulance Service, better known as "D-CAS," was born. McFarlane was appointed as the director, a position he held with the county for the next 22 years.
He obtained his paramedic training at the KU Medical Center in 1977 alongside several of his employees. Supporters say he was successful in gaining the support of the medical community, an essential step necessary in order to make pre-hospital advanced life support in this community a reality.
Upgrading the service to the paramedic level was the first step in a series of major accomplishments for McFarlane.
While managing the ambulance operation, he was active in the American Heart Assn. and, in the late 1970s, launched "I Can Help," a program targeted at training members of the public in CPR and first aid for choking victims.
McFarlane was appointed chair of the Kansas Affiliate of the AHA in 1980. He also was elected chair of the Kansas EMS Administrators Assn. from 1980 to 1984 and appointed as a member of the Governor's Emergency Medical Services Council from 1983 to 1988.
In addition, McFarlane has served as board member and chair of the Johnson County Community College EMS Program Advisory Board since 1987.
Under McFarlane's stewardship, Douglas County Ambulance Service grew to 25 employees, with two stations and a fleet of five ambulances. He assumed additional duties on behalf of the county, including responsibility for the division of emergency preparedness.
McFarlane took a lead role in the task force assigned to bring enhanced 911 and computer-aided dispatching to Lawrence.
He even served as acting administrator for Valley View, the county nursing home, for a period of several months until a new administrator could be hired.
Those who have worked beside McFarlane for many years say they were inspired by his commitment to the public and his vision for the future.
In January 1997, this vision led to the merger of the Douglas County Ambulance Service and the Lawrence Fire Department into the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Department.
McFarlane has since left the organization he helped build for a new challenge: that of managing an EMS system in Johnson County.
In granting McFarlane the award, chamber officials said, "Those of us who have worked closely with McFarlane will miss his leadership and we wish him great success in his new venture."