Arnold said he will continue to maintain the certifications that all EMS personnel are required to, and he will still be around in a volunteer capacity to offer advice and support to the ambulance service staff.
“It’s hard to give up a career of over 30 years in fire and EMS and just go away from it and not think about it,” he said. “I’ll be available to all the people that work there and they can call on me if they need some help.”
Wilson credits Arnold, who was part of the county’s ambulance service for 17 years, with creating something Garrard County can be proud of.
“I am sad to see Colby leave. I think he’s been an important part of the team,” Wilson said. “Colby built the ambulance service to what it is today.”
Wilson said when he was first elected as judge-executive, he didn’t know much about the ambulance service. Arnold educated him on the topic, and they’ve worked well together ever since.
“He kind of gave me a crash course in how everything is done,” Wilson said. “He’s been a great teacher.”
Will miss the work
With a far-off look in his eyes, Arnold said he will miss the good feeling that comes with knowing you’re a part of something important.
“You watch the service grow from back in the times when we didn’t have much equipment ... and you see where it is today and all of a sudden you want to see it keep growing,” he said. “I’m going to miss the people and I’m going to miss the patients. Some of them I wasn’t too happy to see, but in a way, I’m going to miss the ones who, you know, they didn’t even need an ambulance.”
Arnold suffered bleeding on his brain and underwent multiple brain surgeries in September and October of 2009 after his bicycle struck an object while he was biking on Pope Road near his Boyle County house. He flipped forward, throwing him headfirst into the pavement. He credits lightning-quick response from Boyle County EMS and the air evac team that took him to Lexington with saving his life.
Part of Arnold’s skull had to be cut away to remove blood clots and a portion of his brain that was damaged had to be removed. He was sedated and on a ventilator for more than a week, but wound up improving neurologically much faster than doctors had anticipated.
Today, he walks, talks and jokes just like any other person. When asked what’s next, he chuckles that he might try out for the next “Bachelorette.”
In reality, Arnold said he plans to do more work on his Garrard County farm, do some extra fishing and hunting, and hopefully go on a mission trip to a foreign country at some point. He has been on trips to Haiti and Africa in the past.
“My first priority is to get myself back in physical and mental and spiritual condition, which I’m working daily on,” he said.
One short-term goal Arnold has is to deal with Boyle County’s very first fire engine, which he has parked at his house. The 1954 engine needs someone to care for it, and he doesn’t have the time or energy, he said. He’s hopeful members of the Boyle community will care enough about their emergency services history to take over care of the antique engine.
Wilson said Mike Tuggle, who has been filling in as interim director in Arnold’s absence, will remain the director at least until next year, when Garrard will likely advertise for a new EMS director. The ambulance service is having an addition built on and Wilson said he thinks it’s advisable to wait a while before bringing in a new face.
“It wouldn’t be a good time to bring in a new director right now,” he said.
Wilson said he’s hopeful Arnold will help advise Garrard County during the hiring process when its time to choose a new director.
“He leaves some big shoes to fill, for sure,” he said.