Dr. James Suozzi tackles emergency medical care with a helping hand

September 24 – Whether it’s helping run the show in the emergency room at Cheshire Medical Center or providing emergency care in the field, Walpole’s Dr James Suozzi says that when working in an environment very stressful, it is crucial to breathe calm.

Suozzi, 48, is the associate medical director of Keene Hospital’s emergency department and also serves as EMS medical director. In his role for the former, he oversees day-to-day emergency room operations, including patient treatment policies and procedures.

In the latter, Suozzi is responsible for the medical oversight of all EMS services in Cheshire County and also helps teach EMS courses so that first responders can obtain or renew their certifications.

In addition to his work for Cheshire Medical, Suozzi is also Medical Director for the State Office of Emergency Communications and oversees all protocols for 911 calls. Additionally, he is Chairman of the EMS Medical Control Board, which establishes medical care and EMS protocols for the state.

Despite his administrative roles, Suozzi is not always behind a desk. In fact, several times a week he finds himself in the field assisting first responders in emergency situations as an EMS doctor. Since 2010, he has also volunteered with the Walpole Fire Department as a firefighter/paramedic.

“I’m a much better doctor than a firefighter. … They’re protecting me there to make sure I don’t get hurt,” he joked.

His hands-on medical expertise is also often needed in the emergency department.

“If it’s very busy or if a critical patient arrives and we’re there, everyone is on deck,” he said. “I’m going to leave the office and help with resuscitation. It’s not me who’s going to come in and say, ‘I’m going to take over,’ the care is, ‘What can I do or what do you have need ? ‘ “

It is essential in a chaotic situation like this, he said, to keep everyone calm.

“There’s a saying like if you’re in a stressful situation or if there’s a cardiac arrest, the first thing you do is check your own pulse,” he said. “I try to lead by example by not appearing tense, yelling or being agitated. … It’s more of a collaborative approach.”

Suozzi also says he enjoys providing care outside of hospital and thinks it better informs his work at Cheshire Medical.

“I like working in this austere environment,” he explained. “I also think that as an EMS medical director, it’s important to integrate with the EMS system. It lets you know in real time what’s going on in the system and what the EMS providers need. emergency is chaotic, and when you go out there it’s even more chaotic.”

Many emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, require first responders to save a life, demanding fast and efficient care from on-site providers, Suozzi noted.

“My first role if I walk into a scene is to just say, ‘Hey, what do you need, what can I do?’ Most EMS providers do a phenomenal job caring for patients, and I’m just here to help.”

To be a good doctor, especially in emergency medicine, Suozzi said you need an impeccable bedside manner.

“You don’t know these people, they’re not in their best place and you have to have this calming presence,” he said. “I saw what worked by watching the people I worked with. I saw bad interactions… and I saw good interactions. I kind of modeled my behavior around what I wanted to be as a doctor.”

He said he also took after his father, Joe, who was a firefighter in Suozzi’s hometown and was good at talking to people.

Suozzi grew up in Goldens Bridge, NY, a town in Westchester County, alongside her parents, brother Joe Joe, now 52, ​​and sister Cathy Coseale, now 53. His mother, Gail, worked in the community relations department of the New York Telephone Company.

While a sophomore in high school, Suozzi joined the local fire department alongside his father and became a firefighter and EMT.

He studied psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder where he met his future wife, Mary, who was studying in the same field. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1999. Suozzi received his doctorate in osteopathic medicine from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2005 and completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Connecticut in Farmington in 2008.

As he continued his career as a doctor, Suozzi said Mary worked as a social worker. The two married in 2003.

After completing medical school, Suozzi and his wife moved to Walpole in 2009 when he took a job at Cheshire Medical Center as EMS Medical Director and as an Emergency Physician.

Suozzi, who enjoys activities like mountain biking, skiing and snowshoeing, said they were drawn to the town’s rural community. Together they have son Aidan, 13, and daughter Emmaline, 11.

Emmaline wants to be an actress when she grows up, Suozzi said, while Aidan wants to be a firefighter, following in his father’s footsteps as a first responder, a role in which Suozzi recently gained statewide recognition.

He was honored by the NH Bureau of EMS with the Dr. David Connor Memorial EMS Appreciation Award. The “Connor Honor” recognizes someone for “his tireless and heartfelt dedication to emergency medical services in New Hampshire.”

And in July, he received a Cheshire Medical Center Leadership Recognition Award, which is given to those who have “outstanding leadership qualities”.

Heather Atwell, communications manager at the hospital, explained that it is a quarterly award in which the recipient is nominated by their peers and the nomination is approved by a high-level operations team.

“Most of the time the people who receive the award are only nominated by one or two people,” she said. Suozzi was nominated by five.

Allison Ellia, a medical assistant at the hospital, said she had known Suozzi from when he worked at Cheshire Medical Center.

“It definitely creates a collaborative approach to the emergency department,” she said. “He really is the best quarterback we have for our team.”

He frequently helps his colleagues, she added, and is always looking for ways to help the queue of emergency patients waiting for treatment move smoothly.

“He’s a normal guy,” she said. “There’s no ego, so he’s in the same part of the team as everyone else… he doesn’t see himself on any pedestal.”

Hunter Oberst can be reached at 355-8585, or [email protected]