SCARBOROUGH — Deputy Fire Chief Anthony Attardo Jr. announced last week he’ll retire Jan. 4 after more than three decades of service to the community.
But he won’t be going far.
Attardo plans to stay in the home he and his wife built in town about four years ago, but said he looks forward to the chance to travel more.
“I want to enjoy retirement while we’re still young and healthy,” Attardo, 61, said Dec. 21. “We plan our lives around my job … so I’m anxious to be able to plan our life at our leisure.”
He’ll be replaced by Rich Kindelan, who is coming from Old Orchard Beach. Kindelan will start Dec. 31, so the two will work together for a few days before Attardo heads to Florida for a few weeks with his wife.
Attardo was born and raised in Scarborough. He earned a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate before becoming an industrial arts teacher, first in Farmington, then at Massabesic High School in Waterboro.
In 1988, Attardo joined Scarborough Rescue as a call member, and said he immediately “fell in love with the work.” After deciding he was done with teaching, Attardo went back to school and earned his paramedic license.
Late that year he was hired as one of the first four full-time paramedics in Scarborough.
As the department grew, a full-time position designated to manage emergency medical services was created; Attardo fit the role. Although the name of the position as changed over the past 27 years, Attardo has remained.
Today, the department has six offices in Scarborough and about 28 full-time employees.
Attardo credits the people he has met and has worked with over the past 33 years for keeping him around so long.
“This is the people business,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with such a variety of people. … It’s been a great thing to see that collaboration.”
Attardo said one of his favorite parts of the job is receiving letters from people helped by the department.
“The people we serve are so thankful,” he said. “It’s good to see our guys are appreciated.”
When describing the most difficult part of the job, Attardo was also thinking about his team.
“The biggest challenge is the amount of post-traumatic stress disorder our people deal with,” Attardo said, noting peer support has recently begun in collaboration with the Police Department, with the hope of countering what Attardo said is a “widespread issue.”
“The people in this business see things nobody should see, and that gets to be a little much after a while,” he said. “We need to make sure our folks go home in the same condition they came to work in, and that’s not just physically, that’s mentally.”
Attardo recalled a head-on, triple-fatal collision on Interstate 295 that he responded to in the early 1990s. The horrific incident taught him about highway clearance.
In 2011, he got involved in a Federal Highway Administration program, Traffic Incident Management, that teaches how to deal with congestion on highways to reduce secondary accidents. Attardo said those accidents account for nearly a quarter of all accidents on the highway.
“In that one incident we did things that we’re now teaching people in the program to do today,” Attardo said. “It’s kind of cool how it’s come full circle.”
Even though Attardo diverged from his teaching career many years ago, the skill is something he’s utilized every day in Scarborough’s Public Safety Department.
“Tony has always been solid. Not only has he been a great colleague, but he’s provided great mentoring opportunities,” Chief Micheal Thurlow said Dec. 24. “He’s faithful and dedicated. Really top shelf.”
Retiring Scarborough Deputy Fire Chief Anthony Attardo Jr. says post-traumatic stress is the biggest problem faced by emergency responders.