With an ongoing merger between Gonzales County Emergency Medical Services and Rescue (EMS) and Gonzales County Emergency Services District #1 (ESD), there are changes abound for the soon-to-be consolidated groups. One such change was the ESD’s decision to bring on Eddie Callender Jr. as EMS’s future executive director.
Callender Jr. is a South Texas native with an extensive history in Gonzales. After beginning his paramedic career in Bay City, Callender Jr. joined Gonzales County EMS in 1982 as a volunteer.
“My EMS career, while it started in Bay City, it was with a funeral home. When I came to Gonzales, even though it was a volunteer system, it had higher standards and a more professional look to it,” Callender Jr. said. “Though I wasn’t from here, I was accepted as a volunteer and I was quickly given the role of training officer and it became the focus of my life. It was what I lived for.”
Callender Jr. actually holds claim of being the EMS’s first paid employee once the group transitioned in 1989 to a combination of paid employees and volunteers.
With Callender Jr.’s help, Gonzales County EMS’s level of support transformed from a basic life support to mobile intensive care. Naturally, with that success came outside interest and in 1993 Bay City called upon Callender Jr. to raise help their system to modern standards and he obliged.
Callender Jr. spent the next seven years building up Bay City EMS then earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Houston-Victoria and stepped away from the industry in 2000.
When he was working in the field, Callender Jr. was heavily involved in education and taught EMS classes for Victoria College.
“I know I’ve taught at least hundreds of EMTs and paramedics in my career,” Callender Jr. “I have friends all of the state that I taught years and years ago.”
In fact, one of those former students is current EMS director Allan Linebrink. The student and teacher will soon find themselves in similar positions within EMS. Though Callender Jr.’s and Linebrink’s titles within the EMS are closely related, there are delineations between the responsibilities of each role. Callender Jr. will oversee the business aspects of the EMS, while Linebrink will manage day-to-day field work. It should also be noted that Callender Jr. is currently an ESD employee and will remain there until the merger is complete.
Callender Jr.’s prior experience with Gonzales County EMS and fond memories of his time here inspired his return to the field.
“EMS is just special in Gonzales County,” Callender Jr. said. “Always has been.”
Regarding the merger, Callender Jr. believes it is the best path forward for EMS in Gonzales County.
“I’m very proud of the men and women who provide EMS in Gonzales County. They do a tremendous job. There is nothing lacking with the people that we have working here now. They’re doing a great job. Their board is doing a great job,” Callender Jr. said. “Times have changed, and funding is difficult. We are in need of better equipment and better facilities for the men and women that work. It is my opinion and the opinion of the ESD as a collective the best way to overcome this lack of equipment and supplies is to restructure, go the government entity route and move forward.”
Despite the challenges facing the EMS and ESD restructuring, Callender Jr. remains optimistic for the future of the group.
“I’m excited to be back in the Gonzales community and interfacing with the good people of EMS and of this community,” Callender Jr. said. “I’m looking forward to getting this little period of change behind us and getting us refocused and moving us forward into the next forward era of EMS in Gonzales County. To me, it’s an exciting time and I relish the moment.”