James K. Blanchard
Hennepin County Medical Center EMS
"He was a role model to me and a great trainer," rookie paramedic Snyder said. "He was a full-spectrum paramedic. He was so much beyond the emergency stuff. Blanchard knew the streets and everyone knew him. It was hard to get him out of the hospital because everybody wanted to talk to Big Jim," Snyder stated.
James K. Blanchard, 47, of St. Paul, Minnesota, suffered full cardiac arrest and died six days later on December 11, 2002. Paramedic Blanchard was tending to a critically injured person in the back of an ambulance when his own heart rate quickened and breathing became difficult. He continued to administer care to his patient and only sought help for himself after reaching the Hennepin Medical Center.
Jim Blanchard was a twenty-one year veteran for the Hennepin County Medical Center EMS. His duties beyond his work as a paramedic included preempting new paramedics and evaluating rescue and medical equipment. He belonged to the Hennepin County Association of Paramedics and EMTs. There he was on the "Sunshine Committee," which sends flowers, cards, and keeps in touch with sick or injured emergency workers. This committee also cares for and helps the family in the event of death of one of its members.
Big Jim, as he was called because of his massive build and height of 6'8", was a very gentle guy. He would make sure the patient going to the medical center had their shoes and coat for their return trip home. He often fed the cat or made sandwiches for an older person who needed assurance after an "uncomfortable feeling." "He was every bit as nice as he was big," said paramedic Jeff Sampson, a former partner. "He was strong. He could lift people with one hand. You knew when Big Jim was here because he would block out the sun." He will be missed.