Land, Sea, and Air – LifeLine Paramedic is Rescue Ready

We are IU Health

December 05, 2018

A firefighter, paramedic, and veteran Marine, Matt Davidson is always ready and willing to respond to his call of duty.

Listening to Matt Davidson talk about his life is a little like watching a movie – there’s the action of “Black Hawk Down,” the courage of “Backdraft,” and the urgency of “Men of Honor.”

This is a guy who swims in murky waters to search for victims and evidence; flies to remote locations to provide emergency care; and rides in ambulances and fire trucks to offer life-saving assistance. He’s also a fanatic about riding dirt bikes and races professionally – competing in the most challenging off-road distance courses - the Baja 500 and Baja 1000.

Seven years ago, at the age of 38, Davidson joined IU Health LifeLine as a paramedic. Even before that he was living a life worthy of a Pierce Brosnan or Tom Hanks portrayal. Thirty days after he graduated from Greenwood Community High School, Davidson followed in the footsteps of both of his grandfathers and joined the service. During his six-year stint as a Corpsman medic, he completed combat diving school and was part of a Special Forces unit assigned to amphibious missions. Those included deployments to Somalia and to South and Central America.

“Working in reconnaissance, we were the forward eyes and ears of the battalion. They’d drop us three miles out, we’d swim up to shore and sit and watch and listen for hours,” said Davidson. “We’d go in the rivers and canals sometimes looking for clandestine drug labs. We were always wet and usually wet and cold. I’ve been in the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, and across the equator. I like to tell people I’ve traveled all around the world and come back to the same spot.”

When he returned to Indiana, Davidson enrolled at IUPUI and pursued a degree in paramedic science. He worked for a time with a private ambulance service and then joined the Greenwood Fire Department where he worked his way up the ranks to lieutenant. His role on the fire department has included rescue dives; handling of hazardous materials; emergency extrication; and various medic duties.

He has been on evidence search dive teams for high profile cases involving missing college students, Alzheimer’s patients, and teenage boys. His dives are mostly local and he serves as back up for the Indianapolis Fire Department in southern portions of Marion County. He has been called to Lamb Lake in Johnson County and Lake Lemon in Monroe County.

“It’s all been a progression. I start my 20th year with the fire department pension in February and I have a well-rounded and varied career,” said Davidson. “Coming out of the Special Forces you have a good radar for people. That’s helped me in my role with LifeLine. It’s the best with EMS and transport and there’s a lot of autonomy in the field. It involves a lot of thinking on your feet and problem solving.”

When he’s not on call, Davidson enjoys spending time with his family on their 119-year-old Morgan County farm. Seven years ago he married Stacie, who works in EEG at IU Health Methodist Hospital. He also has two sons from a previous marriage – Zeke, a freshman at West Virginia University studying mechanical engineering; and Zane, 14. Last year Zane ended three and half years of leukemia treatments at Riley Hospital for Children. He is now in remission.

“It puts a whole new perspective on life when you see kids go through that,” said Davidson. “It has made me want to be a better leader, a better provider, a better caregiver and it’s definitely made me more sensitive on the job. I just want to be up for the challenges and recognize that people are often depending on me on their worst days.”

-- By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

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