Meet Chief Jim Boyer, 2024 Boyertown Area First Responder of the Year


by Jane Stahl and Lindsey Riegner Mason

James K. Boyer, Chief of the Boyertown Ambulance, a dedicated and experienced leader in emergency medical services (EMS), known for his unwavering commitment to servicing both the medical field and the entire community, has been named the First Responder of the Year.

He was a 1987 graduate of Boyertown Area High School and joined the United States Air Force from 1987 to 1991, receiving many awards during his time in the service. Following his military service, Jim pursued his passion for emergency medicine, becoming an EMT/paramedic with Goodwill Fire Company Ambulance of Pottstown in 1993, a role he continues to fulfill today.

“I was speechless and very thankful,” he explains. “There are so many deserving individuals in this community who could have been selected.

“I never put myself first, and I don’t want this honor to be all about me. Frankly, it didn’t really sink in until it was officially released to the public. But seeing all the kind words and comments on social media after coming back a year later to my hometown is an unbelievable experience.“There are a lot of people who deserve recognition in making me the provider I am today and with whom I work side-by-side daily. We have a great group of providers here at the ambulance and in the first responder community,” he continues. 

Jim has also been serving as the EMS Chief at the Boyertown Ambulance since May 2022. His leadership has been instrumental in ensuring the highest standards of patient care and operational efficiency within the organization. His expertise and compassion have earned him numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, including being recognized as Paramedic of the Year by both Goodwill Ambulance in Pottstown (2001) and Trappe Ambulance (2000, 2001). Jim also attended Pennsylvania State University Berks Campus and was a former Montgomery County 911 dispatcher and flight paramedic with University/Mid-Atlantic MedEvac.

Jim’s commitment to education and training in the medical field extends beyond his role as Chief. He is an American Heart Association CPR instructor and Paramedic Preceptor, where he imparts invaluable skills to fellow EMS professionals. He also served as a volunteer firefighter with the Gilbertsville Fire Company and a volunteer EMT with Gilbertsville Ambulance, further showcasing his selfless dedication to public safety. Jim also volunteers his time as a youth mentor in the BASH intern program.

In addition to his medical positions, Jim is deeply involved in various volunteer roles within the community. He has served as a longtime coach in the Daniel Boone School District and the president and coach of the Amity AC Basketball program from 2005 to 2015, impacting the lives of countless young athletes. He is also dedicated as a coach and helper for the DBYS Buddy Ball program from 2005 to 2022, providing opportunities for children with special needs to participate in sports.

“Moving forward, I will continue to maintain the high standards I’ve set for myself in how I carry myself and how I treat others. I will continue to try make a difference in the lives of others in their times of need as I have strived to do from Day #1 of my career.”

Jim seemed destined to his current career. Growing up, he lived three doors down from Gilbertsville firehouse. In the early 1970’s television series like “Emergency” and “Firehouse” brought emergency medical services and firefighting into the mainstream and ignited an interest in him. He accompanied his mother, a nurse at a senior living center, filling water bottles and attending the needs of her patients. His brothers entered the medical field. 

At that time, ambulance services were based out of the firehouse; and so, at 16, he began “eye-opening” training to become a volunteer junior fireman and began holding first aid classes—much like he does today, 33 years later. And while he didn’t know at the time that fighting fires and helping people in need could be a career, he knew that helping people was what he wanted to do with his life. 

His Air Force enlistment after high school serving in hospitals caring for military personnel and training for a position as medic in wartime triggered an interest in nursing. While waiting for an opening, he took a job as a dispatcher and, tired of waiting, pivoted to a degree from Montgomery County Community College in the emerging career path as an EMT.

Today, from transitioning to paramedic on 911 ambulance calls, he provides advanced life support, issues medication during a diabetic crisis or heart attack, provides advanced airway control and intubation for respiratory issues, for example. 

Reflecting on recent changes, Jim shares, “Respiratory issues peaked during COVID, but it was the unknown--the changing rules and regulations concerning masks, gowns, and gloves—that caused the most anxiety. Everyone was always concerned about contracting COVID. There was so much information coming at us at increased speed. It was a challenging time,” he confesses. 

Continuing, he adds, “Some of my colleagues have succumbed. And while the experiences I’ve faced have never bothered me, the thought that we can’t save everybody is always with us.

“Not much has changed about the job itself since the pandemic in terms of the types of emergencies that we face, but there is a heightened awareness. It really hit home that there might be something out there beyond our control.”

He does note that today there are more mental health challenges. He explains, “COVID created a lot of isolation. People weren’t getting out and about; jobs were lost; food scarcity became an issue for more people. We went from a time of not knowing what to do, to isolating. During lockdowns, call volumes and demands for doctors and nurses exploded which has led to burn out.”

And at the beginning of his career, drug problems were not as prevalent as they are today. “Add to that, my personal worries; I’m always fearful that bad choices can happen in any household that unfortunately affect families and people of all ages.” 

Interacting with people, those he’s known all his life, is what Jim likes best. He’s rekindled friendships as part of his work, connected with his former teachers. And talking to people, learning their histories—their stories as veterans, for example—is especially satisfying for him.

“Some people—even staff members—don’t have their own network of people. Many are alone for one reason or another. Talking to them, making their day just by saying ‘hi’ allowing them to know they’re appreciated brightens their day.” 

Like any job, there are challenges he’d avoid. “When you can’t help is tough. When a car accident is so bad, when babies are very sick, when you watch lives ruined in the blink of an eye after a bad decision. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something happens you never saw before,” he offers. 

Yet, knowing he’s saved many lives keeps him in the job. “We’re not just ambulance drivers,” he adds. “There’s a lot of important service we can do, and there’s a deep satisfaction in being able to revive someone quickly because we recognize the issue. When you see that you’ve made a difference—like recognizing a diabetic issue and can start an IV and revive the person before turning them over to the hospital staff who can continue the car. Being an important link in the chain of care, making a difference, makes me feel good. While we can’t save everyone, it would be harder to lose a patient after several days,” he admits. 

Commenting on some of my favorite entertainments--medical shows, he laughs. “Some of the medical TV shows can be amusing. But we know the shows are after ratings first. Sometimes we look at the monitor on TV and know it’s made up.”

With 39 years of experience as a first responder, Jim Boyer’s legacy of service and leadership continues to inspire those around him, leaving a lasting impact on the Boyertown Community and surrounding areas.

Outside of his professional and volunteer endeavors, Jim finds joy in spending time with his wife Lisa, their children Jake, Amanda, Laura, and Allyson, as well as their grandchildren. He enjoys camping, watching and attending sports events, and cherishes family moments.

Jim acknowledges how fortunate he is to have a supportive wife, forgiving of long hours and shift work and that making time for families and for getting away to recharge are critical.

The pride that Jim Boyer takes in his career—one that he seems destined to follow—is matched by the gratitude the community feels while honoring his service during the 70th Citizen of the Year event.

The conversation with Jim Boyer from which this article was created can be found on the "B Inspired" podcast, available on your favorite podcast platform including Spotify, Google, Castbox, Breaker, Overcast, Pocket Casts, and RadioPublic, and Apple.

* A 2001 alum of Boyertown Area Senior High, Lindsey Riegner Mason earned a BS in Elementary Education from West Chester University and an MLIS Library Science from Kutztown University. Lindsey served as Director of the Boyertown Community Library from 2012-2015 when she became a librarian in the Reading School District. Since 2021, she has held the position of Southern Middle School Librarian in the Wilson School District. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Lindsey was named the 66th Annual Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year.  She lives with her husband, Corey, and has four stepchildren ranging in age from 18-24. She is active on the fundraising committee of the Boyertown Community Library and the conference committee for the Pennsylvania School Library Association.

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