While he was still in high school in Plaistow, New Hampshire, Joe Merry started his career in emergency medical services with the second largest EMS company in the United States.
“I grew up north of Boston and, when I was 18 years old, I started working for American Medical Response,” Merry recalls. “I held various positions in the organization and received a well-rounded view of emergency medical response.”
The expertise Merry gained from his time with AMR included the areas of safety and rescue, billing and communications. He also learned how important community involvement is, he says.
“American Medical Response is very community-oriented. It was hugely important to me in my life,” Merry says. “It was corporate, too, so I learned about corporate organization.”
With that experience under his belt, Merry says he headed for the sun in Los Angeles where he worked in a management capacity at an EMR service. One year in East L.A., with its volatile socio-economic conditions and history of crime, taught Merry valuable lessons, he says.
Prompt Ambulance Service
9835 Express Drive, Highland
“I could never see myself living there long-term. It was rough,” he says.
Merry took three months off to reconnect with his passion for EMR services, and in 2008 became part of Prompt Ambulance Service, based in Highland. After journeying from the east coast to the west coast to the Midwest, Merry says he’s finally found a home and a direction for his life.
“This is where my career has really taken off. I’ve had so much support here,” Merry says of the firm founded by Gary and Shar Miller. “I live in Highland, and Highland is very similar to the town I grew up in. Everyone wants to know everyone. You can have very good relationships here.”
Since arriving in Northwest Indiana and at Prompt Ambulance, Gary Miller says, “Joe has been instrumental in the complete upgrade and construction of a new communications center, which is now responsible for the primary Emergency Medical Dispatching services for the Towns of Munster and Highland as well as the primary dispatching for our ambulance resources.”
Miller nominated Merry for the 20 Under 40 honor, and praises Merry’s work ethic, talent and his community involvement.
Merry is also responsible for negotiating and maintaining good working relationships with the five communities for which Prompt Ambulance has the exclusive 911 emergency contracts. These include Dyer, Highland, Griffith, Merrillville and Munster. “As such, Joe participates in regular meetings centered around maintaining the overall relationship between Prompt and the towns, as well as coordinating the delivery of EMS services to residents within these communities,” Miller says.
Non-emergency duties also keep Merry busy. He is responsible for maintaining and negotiating all hospital agreements within Prompt’s Northwest Indiana service area, and “has successfully played an integral part in the recent signing of some exclusive contracts with key hospitals within the region,” Miller says.
When he’s not helping Prompt Ambulance reach out to those who need emergency medical assistance, Merry is active in community organizations and fund-raising efforts. For example, he is a member of the Highland Kiwanis Club and is involved in that group’s projects. Merry says he is especially proud of the financial support he helped arrange through Prompt Ambulance for the G.R.E.A.T. program in the Highland schools.
G.R.E.A.T. stands for Gang Resistance Education and Training—a school-based classroom curriculum that is taught by a law enforcement officer.
“They were having financial difficulties and I thought, ‘We can easily finance that’,” Merry says. A fundraiser that he helped organize brought in $1,800, and Prompt matched the amount. “We helped save this program for this year,” Merry says.
“This is one of the nicest parts—doing a lot for the community, for the betterment of the community,” Merry says.
Merry credits Miller for broadening his perspective on giving back to the community. “Gary helped instill in me that relationships are very important,” he says.
Another major influence in his life was his paternal grandfather, Merton Merry, he says. “I spent a lot of time with my grandfather when I was growing up. He was a well-respected man in the community, an electrician. I look up to him. He taught me about giving back.”