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July 16, 2015
As July 4th slipped in to July 5th, a 911 call went out to help an inebriated person in Oriental’s harbor. Eric Kindle, a paramedic with Pamlico Rescue was off-duty and inside The Bean, the harborside coffeehouse he owns. Hearing the call, he made his way on foot to the scene. On-duty emergency personnel arrived and in time, he was asked to move the ambulance from one side of a building to another, about 50 feet.
While moving the ambulance, he hit and damaged the side view mirror on a parked pickup truck. With police already on the scene, he was questioned about his ability to drive. He took a Breathalyzer test, which registered a blood alcohol level of 0.11, above the 0.08 that is the legal limit in NC. He was charged with DUI and forced to give up his driving privileges until an August court date.
This incident has made news in regional papers and TV stations, the headlines noting a paramedic responding to a call gets a drunk driving charge. It is a legitimate story. There’s little argument about the seriousness of alcohol and driving. (Some of the reporting, however, failed to note that Eric wasn’t driving the ambulance to or from the scene.)
In town, there is concern about the fallout. Namely, whether Eric Kindle’s decision that night to lend a skilled hand — in a county short of them — could keep him from working as a paramedic in the future. If so, many say, that would be a great loss for the county and for Oriental in particular, and could mean the difference between someone’s life and death.
Here at the far end of the peninsula, a half hour or more from the hospital, Eric’s passion for the work has been a comforting thing. When you call 911, you see Eric, whether he’s on-duty as a paid paramedic, or, as he was the other night, off-duty, but responding nonetheless.
UPDATE: Four days after the incident, Eric Kindle voluntarily resigned from Pamlico Rescue, but could reapply once – and if – the court case is settled in his favor. His full driving privileges are expected to be restored in early August which could lead to him volunteering as an unpaid first responder. (though still unable to administer the more skilled paramedic level of care.)
Gwinn Hedrick, Teri Reid, Spencer Bliss, Brian Middlebrook, Bob Maxbauer, Grace Evans, Bill Creswell, Lynn DeChesser, Rich Halvarson, Lynn and Dan O’Neill, Catherine Baxley, Caroline Bliss, Andy and Mary Anton, Jim Berry, Linda Schmidt, Gordon Pickett, Barbara Hardy, Ben Casey, Gail Good, Billy and Donna Creech, Madeline Ann Sutter, Pat Del Rio, Steve Lavallee, Dan Crowe, Leslie Wilson, Beth Larsen, and Debbie Rodenhouser, among others, share their views in their letters to the editor.
To the Editor,
The outpouring of kudos, respect and support for Eric Kindle throughout this unfortunate situation helps to renew my faith that there are still pockets kindness, commitment, goodness and compassion among us….in spite of our human imperfections and lapses in judgment. My husband and I chose to relocate from Delaware 7 years ago because the Oriental community just happens to be one of these awesome pockets of humanity. Eric, both personally and professionally, is a shining example of what we all love about being members of the Oriental community.
It has been disheartening that media and law enforcement responses have spun the entire situation out of control, not only for Eric and his family – but also as an example of how our society has become so judgmental, critical, and narrow-minded that one wonders if common sense has been lost forever. It is a very sad day for all of us when the letter of the law is no longer balanced with common sense, and the context of the situation’s circumstances seems not to be considered.
It is my hope that some sense of reason and sanity will prevail, and that Eric will be welcomed back to his well-deserved and well-earned professional position with the Pamlico Rescue. I applaud the overflow of kudos and support for Eric and am proud to add my voice. I am also grateful to be part of Oriental’s wonderful community, and will be pleased to do all I can to support any efforts to assist one of its finest citizens.
None of us ever knows when we will need a caring and competent professional to quickly respond at our door for a personal medical crisis. I know for me…..I sincerely hope it is Eric.
To the Editor:
On separate occasions, my husband was having text-book symptoms of a heart attack, our granddaughter was experiencing severe stomach pains, our daughter needed emergency care. At all 3 frightening times the first one at our door was Eric Kindle.
He is a dedicated and loyal first responder that our little town needs desperately. Please reinstate this much needed young man now.
There is no finer, compassionate paramedic than Eric Kindle. When my husband, Ron, was declining in the grim grips of dementia, after 3 late night/early morning calls to 911 to help me with Ron, Eric gave me his private cellphone number. He checked in regularly with me to see how Ron was doing and whether I needed help. I always knew he was just a call away.
Eric could have ignored that call to aid someone in need that night that he was off-duty. He could have left it to those on call. But that’s not Eric’z nature. Pamlico County needs Eric as a paid paramedic.
To the Editor:
As a non-resident of Oriental, but very appreciative wanderer who has found a second home in your town, I would feel amiss if I did not make a comment on the issue of Eric Kindle.
I’ve never been injured to the extent requiring treatment by paramedics, however, I have been an all-volunteer first responder in my home community (until sidelined due to injury) and have witnessed many indiscretions with much more dire consequences concluded with a much better outcome.
And, having said that, I would have to admit that while Mr. Kindle was remiss in his actions, I would feel much safer as a traveler in your community if he were “back in the saddle”, so to speak.
Reading through comments on the issue, even discounting some due to the possibility of exaggeration or bias, Mr. Kindle sounds as if he is a fine paramedic, fine community member and merely has made one mistake in an otherwise very successful career.
Not everybody can do the job that Mr. Kindle does, and when you have somebody with such a talent for the job and the compassion to back it up, it should be criminal to remove him from his service to the community that he has served with such selflessness.
In short, stuff happens. We are all human, we all have our faults and make our mistakes. Yet, that’s the beauty of things – we make mistakes so we can learn from them. I urge all parties involved to come to an agreement which provides the residents and travelers with the best care possible – with Mr. Kindle back in his ambulance – in his element – where he belongs.
(Currently) Science Hill, Kentucky
To the Editor:
My name is Steve Lavallee. I respond out of Station 25 Florence Whortonsville and I have been an EMT for 6 years now. Through the years I have worked with Eric on many calls. Eric is one of the most respected medics that we have. Whenever I came upon a scene and I saw we had Eric there, I was always relieved.
He was the type of medic that if you weren’t sure about some procedure, he would work with you and did not degrade you. There was one particular incident when we were running a code out of Florence and I was running in the back of rescue with him and Scott. To watch him work was amazing. We actually brought that patient back and he is still here, with his family, today.
Another aspect of Eric was his teaching ability. I have taken many medical classes at the college with him being the instructor. The knowledge he has is amazing. I fully think this county will truly miss Eric and to think that he was off duty when this occurred. He didn’t even have to respond, but that is how he is.
I don’t think driving and drinking is right, but come on, backing up a vehicle? I hope this all plays out well and we get Eric back.
EMT Station 25, Florence-Whortonsville
Based upon the outpouring of stories and character sketches prompted by Eric’s mishap on the July 4th weekend, in my estimation he has shown far better professional judgment, even on that night, than have either the media folks who crucified him or the officers who arrested him. Give the guy a break for cripes sake. He wasn’t on duty as a first responder that night. Most couldn’t negotiate that ambulance through that mess stone sober.
Patrick Del Rio
Eric Kindle is the face of Rescue, Help and Compassion in our small Town of Oriental.
Eric has been the face of rescue for me, personally, and for my family here at the end of the road for many years. At my life-changing accident, Eric’s timely arrival saved me from well-meaning lay people who might have made the situation worse. His crew was in my house very early one Sunday morning in less than 5 minutes to try to save my husband’s life.
When we came here 26 years ago, medical pickings were mighty slim. We are still 30 miles out. I became an EMT, certified in 1999, not active now. We were taught how to “keep it together” until we could get to real medical help.
That experience taught me the value of our First Responders and our own Pamlico Rescue. It was always clear to me that I wouldn’t be bouncing out of bed during the night to deliver medical help to the far reaches of our county. Sallie Winfrey did. Mike Miller did. Eric does.
Surely there must be a Good Samaritan aspect to this event. Let’s demand proper treatment of Eric Kindle and thus, proper treatment of all of us.
Madeline Ann Sutter
To the Editor:
We would like to add our voices to those who, while not condoning Eric’s decision to attend a call while inebriated, absolutely feel that there are circumstances to be considered in what we hope will be his re-hiring.
We have first-hand experience of Eric’s knowledge, consideration and conscientiousness in responding to calls from folks in medical trouble. Luckily, our call turned out to be a false alarm for what we thought was a 3rd heart attack. In this area we have great need for Eric’s skills and for the passion he brings to his job.
Billy and Donna Creech
Let me begin by saying that I feel very sorry for the community now that Eric is no longer allowed to respond to our needs.
I would challenge all “volunteers” of our fire department and First Responders to say they have never shown up at a call having had a drink or two. This is a “Volunteer” position and as such, these individuals are on the clock 24/7 for 365 days out of the year. How are they to know which moment they should not drink because there might be a call?
I am certain that all across America there have been doctors, nurses, PA’s, assistants, lab techs, pilots, and others in careers that put our lives in their hands who have worked when they were too exhausted to hold their heads up, been sick and on medication, or have taken illegal (unprescribed) drugs as well as had been drinking. They were not released but put through whatever programs they needed until they could work in the condition they are supposed to. They were reprimanded but were not thrown out of their careers forever.
Was Eric in the wrong since he “blew” over the limit? Yes. Was it necessary to totally banish him from helping others? Absolutely not..
There definitely had to be other means of reprimanding him, if that was necessary, other than to remove him from helping this community. Suspend him for a time, disallow him to drive a vehicle if necessary, for a time, make him pay for the damages….but for heavens sake, do not throw him out forever.
Those who are throwing the stones surely must not live in a glass house.
I plead with the fire department to reconsider their action of dismissing him without exploring other options. It is NOT too late to reverse your actions, and hopefully Eric would accept this second chance.
Bottom line….I want Eric to respond to my residence if ever needed. Bring Eric back.
With regards to the Eric Kindle issue, it seems that the poorest judgment during that incident came not from Mr. Kindle, but from those in a position to exercise salutary neglect but failed to do so.
To the Editor,
Several years ago when I had a serious accident at home, Stuart called 911 and Eric Kindle was the first to arrive. Eric was professional and provided exceptional medical and emotional care that I needed.
Should there be another emergency, I hope Eric will be there for me and for all of Pamlico County.
Eric made an error in judgment but that does not diminish the excellent emergency medical care he provides for our county.
Thank you, Eric for being there when I needed you and for everyone else you have assisted. You have my respect and support.
Barbara Hardy, RN
I echo the sentiments of many here; we need to keep Eric on the payroll; he takes superb care of us.
For example, we had an accident at home on Friday July 3rd; my 28-year-old daughter was badly burned by scalding hot water while brewing iced tea at our home on Smith Creek. While she spent 10 minutes in a cool shower (thank you, Google), I called every medical provider in town and got either voice mail or no answer.
Instead of calling 911 (not life-threatening), I put her in the car and headed west toward Nova Care in Alliance, or Craven Regional in New Bern. As I turned onto Highway 55, Dwayne Moore was in front of me; when I blinked my lights, he promptly pulled over. I asked his advice, and after hearing what happened and seeing her leg, he whipped out his cell phone and got Eric, who was off-duty, working at the Bean.
Eric left his busy business, went home for his medical bag, met us at the Bean and expertly treated her burn, which by now was blistered from hip to knee.
How can you find fault in a man who constantly puts others’ needs ahead of his own?
Eric puts his time and life on the line as a first responder; let’s give him the benefit of the doubt…..think he’s earned it.
Work in Raleigh/come to live in Oriental
To the town of Oriental,
This is a small community that has become a second home for me. That began when my sister and mom moved to your town, with my nephew Eric Kindle following soon after. That was ten years or so ago and I have seen or heard of all of the happy and sad events that have happened through those years.
Most of you know that same story as Eric became the proprietor of The Bean, my sister became the wife of Charlie Overcash and Connie, whom I now visit at Grantsbrook, became the social butterfly she has always been.
Eric has been a part of the medical world since graduating high school, attending UVM and working at one of the hospitals in Rhode Island. I have all of the clippings from your newspapers of his advancements being an EMT.
I have seen one of his many Jeeps so full of first responder equipment and supplies for The Bean I wondered how he would fit in to drive. I have seen him as high as the kite he is flying and as full of despair as a man can be after losing a life on one of his calls to an accident.
Those were tragic accidents. What happened to him was passion for his job and a judgment call that will haunt him forever. It didn’t harm anything but a mirror and made many people “respond” in a way that should be reflecting on them just how dehumanized this world has become.
It was unbelievable what every one of those reporters read off of their teleprompters, not even bothering to check the facts. I say shame on all of you. Please keep this in the news as a total injustice to a person that has affected more lives doing good than they ever will.
I might live up north, but my heart is in Oriental.
Letter to the Editor:
In support of Eric Kindle, our stellar EMT, I hope that the current negative situation is rapidly and positively resolved. Eric completed a large amount of training to qualify as an EMT. He has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty to save lives and create a really rapid first response to emergencies in the southeastern part of this county.
I am sure that there are others who are equally dedicated, but I know he is usually the first responder to arrive at the scene in our area. He must have his emergency radio on his person 24 hours a day to answer the call as rapidly as he typically does.
I have personal reason to know that Eric is dedicated and efficient, as he was the first responder to arrive at my house when my wife suffered a heart attack about two-and-a-half years ago. This event was in the middle of the night and Eric was at my house about six miles out of town in less than ten minutes. He was well ahead of the ambulance and the remainder of the first responders by several minutes.
I report this only to show what has been reported over and over again that he is generally on top of any emergency response in our area of the county whether he is on duty or not. I will be forever grateful for his assistance.
I was not present nor do I have any information other than those reported in the newspapers on the unfortunate events on the night that Eric (who was off duty) responded to a potential drowning event in town and was subsequently cited for being over the legal breathalyzer limit when he moved a parked ambulance.
When presented with an opportunity to assist he responded typically and without regard to the possible consequences. Should we not be lauding his response rather than prosecuting his Good Samaritan instincts?
The next time someone in our area needs rapid response and it isn’t rapidly forthcoming, who do we blame for the absence of a timely response?
I hope we don’t have to blame ourselves.
We are totally in support of Eric Kindle and all he has brought to the Village. We are grateful that we have not had to use his services but have heard nothing but accolades from those who have. The Village should do whatever it takes to have him reinstated.
Andy & Mary Anton
I have known Eric since almost immediately after his arrival in Oriental. The Bean is a common local hangout, in a small community, but I also worked the emergency room in New Bern for years, and witnessed first hand, how he immediately embraced our community, the countless runs from Pamlico County and back, his aborted personal plans, his late and crazy hours at his paying business, to accommodate his sacrifices for our County. His professionalism, compassion, initiative, and work ethic were instantly obvious.
Many people recognize him, and appreciate his commitment to the people of Oriental, and Pamlico County. Few know exactly what that has entailed. Our volunteer fire and rescue men and women are priceless, and he is a clear example of that.
Of course he made a mistake in judgement, I won’t deny that. He wouldn’t either, but context please. He wasn’t on duty, he didn’t have a passenger, he wasn’t on the highway, he moved a few feet for practical purposes, and I sincerely doubt that many would act differently, in the same circumstances.
Another letter referred to a recent tragic drowning. I can guarantee that every rescue person involved had that in mind when they chose to respond. The responsibility to respond quickly, and make the correct MEDICAL decisions and actions is massive, such that few outside of that calling can possibly comprehend. Drowning victims don’t always look like drowning victims. A dramatic event in a pool can distract attention from a second or third victim, and so on.
I have been a nurse for 34 years. I love my community, I care about my “fellow man”, I believe in my “ calling” and the responsibility that accompanies it. If I was down the street at a local restaurant, drinking a glass or two of wine, and was called upon to provide emergency assistance, does anyone seriously think I’d keep my seat and do nothing? Who would do this, and what would we think if they did?
Is it not really easy to see how simply moving the vehicle a few feet was a ridiculously easy judgment error to make? Isn’t hindsight lovely? If it had been me, would I be pilloried on the local news, would my career be over too? Largely, I judge our local media for making this into a nightmare, with their usual flare for drama over facts, but we all have an obligation to speak up and speak out.
To the Editor,
Question: Would I trust Eric Kindle with my life or my husband’s life?
Answer: Yes, we have already been the recipients of Eric’s EMT expertise on more than one occasion.
Question: Do I still trust Eric with our lives in an emergency situation?
Eric has made a positive impact on our family and our community and has surely earned our support.
Catherine & Carl Baxley
A question of liability… What if Eric had not moved the ambulance but rendered assistance to the victim? If something happened to the victim while under the care of Eric, the victim’s family would sue everyone involved.
It’s a shame something like this happened. Hopefully the court will decide to dismiss or continue without a finding for a period of time and all will be forgotten and forgiven.
I’m surprised that a not so known “professional courtesy” wasn’t used to allow Eric to walk home that evening. Shame on the media for describing this incident as “Paramedic charged with DWI after driving ambulance & hitting truck.”
Good luck Eric, all this will pass in time.
To the Editor and the Citizens of Oriental and Pamlico County
We first met Eric some 8 years ago as he responded to a car accident involving John and a young man. Both cars were totaled. The accident was just the other side of the bridge and Eric – on his own – responded a good 30 minutes before the ambulance arrived from Bayboro. Eric was the only person on the scene that arrived with a medical kit and capable of triage assessment; the results, especially for the young man, could have turned out very differently, had it not been for Eric’s knowledge and talents.
There were more encounters with Eric as John’s health issues sent him to New Bern more than once in the years we lived in Oriental.
Will Flannery would certainly have not had the recovery from his accident ( see pictures in Town Docks archives) had Eric not called for the helicopter to Greenville. He was a severely injured man who needed the skill and expertise at Greenville’s Trauma Center, not available locally.
Time and time again the community has been helped and aided by the calm, wise judgment and skills of Eric Kindle.
To be punished for helping off hours and in the wee hours of a holiday weekend is a travesty. Is this the type of judgment citizens want from the Sheriff’s office when local police were already on the scene?
Eric went to help in an unfortunate incident at a drinking establishment what was that person’s alcohol level)? Again the outcome could have been different.
Rally behind Eric, the community needs his skills and his “got your back “attitude. Go to Eric’s court hearing to show your support, start a defense fund, get Eric back on the job and back in your lifeboat.
July 12, 2015
To the Editors:
We are writing this letter in support of Eric Kindle. Always the first to help when help is needed by anyone – and with typical diligence beyond the call – Eric tried to assist someone in need – even though he was off duty.
This entire situation saddens all of us and we pray that all will turn out well for Eric Kindle, which will be a godsend for our community.
Dan and Lynn O’Neill
Re: Eric Kindle:
Let’s see. Eric was off-duty and voluntarily went to help with a tragic accident. No good deed goes unpunished! What would you or I do whether or not we had just finished a glass or two of wine?
I am a member of the PARS radio amateur club. We support events such as Cycle NC. Eric and his crew were at the ready when the call came in for an injured concussed cyclist. I personally witnessed Eric and his crew minister to the “out cold” cyclist. Eric took charge and did the lion’s share of the work.
Let’s keep this treasure of a guy helping our community.
Eric is a hardworking and dedicated EMT who provides so much help for our community. Pamlico County and the town of Oriental need to support him 100% and I agree with Mr. Maxbauer’s suggestion of the town rallying together to help towards costs incurred to resolve this matter.
To the Editor:
Luckily, I have never had to call on the Rescue Squad for personal help, but I have the feeling from all that I have heard from Oriental citizens who have had to call, I would want to see Eric arrive to take care of the problem.
My question is: why with all the publicity, has there been no mention of the person who caused the situation? (Ed: the inebriated person in the water.)
My understanding is that the Sheriff’s department was called in for a possible drowning and the press alerted fairly quickly, but in our local newspapers or other media there has been no notice of arrest or disposition of anyone other than Eric or even of why the sheriff were called in the first place since our local police were on duty.
If, in fact, the call was for a possible drowning, and since we had had a tragic drowning not so long ago, I can imagine that Eric and perhaps others celebrating the Fourth, would show up to help.
Thank you if you can clarify the rest of the story.
I think the idiom, . . “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”, is applicable here. Sure, there was infraction of what was totally right, however, Eric Kindle’s actions are deserving of no more than an appropriate reprimand, and his future service career should not be jeopardized. Without dispute, his value to our community is immeasurable, and his moral character time proven selfless.
If there is s legal defense expense, I suggest the concerned community establish a trust fund to help defray it, and by doing such, would create an official forum and petition for our collective support for Eric Kindle. Any possible surplus balance of such a fund would be donated to our local First Responders’ organization. Anyone interested in assisting (or suggesting} structure please contact me.
Retired Oriental Town Manager
In the past 20 months, we have had 2 occasions to call the Pamlico County Paramedics for assistance. Eric Kindle was the first on the scene – experienced, efficient, caring and compassionate. We know that he has touched the lives of many or our friends and neighbors.
We hope we will not need the 911 services anytime soon, but if we do, we would want Eric Kindle first on the scene.
Having read the circumstances of the incident in the local news, and in no way condoning any form of drink driving, I find it difficult to understand the logic of pursuing the line of action taken by the relevant authorities. I would truly like to see the decision tree which led to this situation.
Let’s hope that common sense prevails and Eric returns to his position in the Emergency Squad as a positive asset to this community.
To the Editor,
This letter is in reference to the local hometown hero, Eric Kindle. Years ago, I was once his employee but I consider us good friends these days.
Although I’ve relocated after 20 years, I still have family in Oriental. It’s always comforted me to know that we had a rockstar like Eric as a first responder. I’ve personally witnessed him fly out of the Bean to a call probably more times than I can count.
The mistake that was made by Eric was serious, however the loss of him as a dedicated paramedic would be an extremely large loss for the city of Oriental. I’d hate to see many suffer because of an honest error in the line of duty.
Jacksonville, FL (I’m stationed here)
I am a registered nurse in Oriental and I am writing to give my professional opinion that Eric Kindle is a superb paramedic and it would be a huge disservice to this county to fire him.
He made one mistake, NOT a medical error, while off duty and trying to be helpful. One error in judgment, in which no one was harmed, should not cause the loss of a career for a gentleman who has saved many lives and should be allowed to continue to use his superb clinical skills to save many more.
Teri Reid, RN
7/10/15To the Editor:
Thanks to Emergency First Responders.
Over the years I have come upon two accidents just after they have happened. The feeling is, what can I do to help? Just to talk to them and tell them our First Responders are on the way, will be here quickly and they could not be in better hands,is all I know how to do.
On those two occasions, within minutes, the first to arrive was Eric Kindle. I was as glad to see him as it was very unnerving. You could see in the people’s eyes and their emotions, that Eric put them to ease with the way he spoke to them and the questions he asked. As I walked away I knew they could not be in better hands.
The other day I had to call 911 to my shop. I told the person Eric would be here right away knowing his commitment to his duty. I waited and waited not all that long but it seemed like an eternity. The first responders showed up, but no Eric. Believe it or not I was shocked. I thought Eric was out of town. Today I know what happened.
Until now, I knew if I had a health problem, Eric would be there, which was a good feeling. I know the first responders are all quick on their job, but seeing Eric in action put me to ease.
It would make me feel better if I know Eric is still there for me or anybody who needs help quickly.
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