I was honored when Walter asked me to speak about my friend and mentor, Dr. Mike Lippe. I first met Mike when he game to Good Sam in 1994. Even in his first interactions with the hospital, Mike was thinking about EMS. He had asked the hospital to setup an EMS night so that all the EMTs and paramedics could come and meet the new medical director for the ER. I remember Ray Florida introduced him to me as a “fellow pilot” and we hit it off right away. That first day I had no idea if he was any good as a doctor or knew the first thing about EMS but I knew we could talk flying for hours without running out of stories.


Mike came to us from Carlisle, PA which is a small town west of Harrisburg and quite different from Rockland or northern NJ where he grew up, and apparently the EMS providers there where not as advanced. I remember Mike being impressed with both the BLS and ALS units from his very first days in the ER. He would often stop you as you brought a patient in and say things like, “thanks, you guys did a great job”, or when you returned later in the day he was always anxious to find you and let you know how your patient was doing, show you and interesting EKG or x-ray, or just chat.


Of course, it wasn’t all easy for Mike in those early days, as there were some customs he wasn’t used to. While Mike dealt with the Amish in Pennsylvania and they had their unique customs like being very stoic patients and not complaining, he was in for a culture shock when he came here. While we have a patient population here who may dress similarly to the Amish, it’s a whole other deal entirely. As many of you know, Mike was always one of the most gullible people around and I could get him to believe almost anything. One day Mike looked very confused when we brought in a Hassidic patient with chest pain and I explained that he had to call the Rabbi before he gave TPA (this was pre-cath lab days). He thought I was kidding and proceeded to tell the patient that he was having a heart attack, but we would use a new drug to save his life. Mike gave this very detail 3-minute speech to the patient about how wonderful the medicine was and how great it was that he came in early, etc. The patient simply looked at him and said, “we have to talk to the rabbi first”. Well Mike couldn’t believe this and asked my why they had to talk to the rabbi first. For a few days, I actually had him believing that all rabbis in Rockland County had to be physicians before they could be ordained.


Mike was a tremendous supporter of EMS and pre-hospital care for 15 years. Of course many of you know how entertaining as well as educational Mike could make a call audit. I remember one year for the Holiday mega call audit, due to some clerical error there were no PCRs to review. Here we had 100 EMS providers in the room and there were no cases to discuss! Without a second’s hesitation, Mike looked at us and said I’ll be back in a minute. He went to the ER and photocopied the logbook page of “chief complaints”. Mike then read a complaint such as “eye pain” and proceeded to give a 30-minute lecture on the eye at an EMS appropriate level. It was at that moment that I realized if you put a rock on the table in the middle of the room, Mike would find a way to speak intelligently about it for an hour without any preparation. That was Mike’s gift as a teacher, both on a large scale and one on one.


In the late 90’s the AED became widely used and all the police departments and many of the parks departments as well as the majority of BLS agencies wanted to use this new device but it required medical oversight. Without hesitation, Mike agreed to be medical director, free of charge for any interested agency.


When Mike Murphy and I started doing 12 lead courses when the prehospital 12 lead came out we went to Mike and asked if he could help to teach the medics how to interpret 12 leads. We knew it was asking a lot for him to give up weekend time with his family to come lecture at a course for a few hours, but like with everything else Mike said he was happy to do it. I think it also helped that I told him the course was being given near an airport and he could fly there.


Mike served as medical director for the RCC paramedic program for many years as well and has personally helped educate hundreds of primary paramedic students, as well as EMT students, and I’m sure every EMS provider around has heard his favorite lecture on shock.


Mike advocated tirelessly for EMS and prehospital care as a member of the REMAC in Hudson Valley fighting the battles over trauma centers, STEMI centers and stroke centers, even when the idea wasn’t popular but he knew it was right.


In summary, if you received an AED shock, had an RPS paramedic, Regional EMS crew care for you, had a paramedic read your 12-lead EKG, or interacted with the EMS system in anyway, Mike Lippe had something to do with it.


For me personally, I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Mike. He has been with me, often behind me kicking me in the ass, every step of the way. When I first met Mike I was working as a paramedic, but wanted to on in the medical field. I told Mike I was going to go to PA school and while he felt I should “just go all the way and go to med school” he supported my decision. I remember many nights working Medic 31 or 23 while in school and dropping by the ER to ask Mike a question about something I didn’t understand. Mike would sit for hours explaining the most complex medical concepts if a way that anyone could easily understand. After PA school and during med school while I worked for Mike, I would look forward to a shift with Mike more than anyone else, partly because he was easy to make fun of, but mostly because I would go home having learned something now. To this day, I will often perform a procedure on a patient or identify a finding and think to myself, Mike taught me that!


Currently in my role as an EMS medical director, and Emergency physician when problems or unusual situations arise I think to myself how would Mike have handled this and that usually turns out to be the best answer.


I couldn’t be happier that my dear friend and mentor is receiving this honorary paramedic degree. Mike has always been a “paramedic” at heart and has done more to advance EMS in Rockland County than anyone else I known.