Canton Township deputy fire chief retiring after 72 years

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio--  Canton Township Fire Department Deputy Chief Jack Liberator, who helped revolutionize emergency medical care, is retiring after 72 years of service.

His career began in 1947, when the 17-year-old lied about his age and joined the all-volunteer department.

“They took me on and I used to run with them. In fact, I kid that I could run from my house to the station faster than the guys came in their cars,” Liberator said.

When he joined the fire service, the first responders for medical emergencies were funeral directors, often in hearses that doubled as ambulances.

“They picked them up and took them to a hospital, no training, except maybe Red Cross," he said.

Over the decades, the fire service began to assume more responsibility for emergency medical care and as a trained ER nurse,Liberator became a leading authority on life-saving techniques and on the training of first responders.

“There are people now responding to runs that are much better trained, know what to do, and medications to give,” he said.

After more than seven decades on the fire department, the 89-year-old said he is looking forward to spending more time with his six children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He said his greatest satisfaction has been from teaching generations of life savers.

“Nowadays, you have a young, 20-year-old who can read an EKG and diagnose that EKG, call ahead to the hospital and activate a heart team. That was unheard of in those days,” he said.

Those who now follow in Jack Liberator`s footsteps said they will miss his expertise, but they said the lessons learned from the deputy chief will continue to save lives.

“Truly just amazing, I don`t think anybody 30 years ago would have imagined what EMS care is today, and we owe that to Jack, paving that road for what it is today, just an inspiration,” said Assistant Fire Chief Rick Morabito.

In a fitting tribute, Ohio’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Emergency Medical Services is named after Jack Liberator and he was the first recipient of the award.

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