EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday held a heartfelt and emotional tribute to Rick Goldsberry, who for the past eight years was director of Imperial Valley College Emergency Medical Service Training Programs.
Goldsberry died Thursday after a sudden illness. A celebration of his life and legacy will be held at noon Saturday in the IVC DePaoli Sports Complex.
In presenting the board’s Medal of Merit to Goldsberry’s sister Tish Smith, Supervisor Ryan Kelley, who has been a paramedic and is a former county emergency medical services administrator, read the resolution. Paramedics and EMTs from around the Valley lined the back wall of the supervisors’ chambers during the presentation.
“Rick has had an impact on nearly every emergency medical technician and paramedic working in Imperial County,” the county resolution noted. “He sets high expectations for students and has ensured each graduate has met those expectations.”
Goldsberry taught in every paramedic program at IVC since its inception in 1992.
His death sent shockwaves through the many agencies and programs with which he had worked.
“We are very saddened by this news as Rick has been the ‘heart and soul’ of the EMS Program along with Steve Holt,” IVC Superintendent/President Victor M. Jaime told the campus community early Friday. “Our condolences go out to his family and many friends.” Jaime said the Paramedic graduation ceremony that was scheduled for Dec. 10 has been postponed to Jan. 13 at the request of college staff and Goldsberry’s paramedic students.
“He was one of the most humble individuals I know, as he never told people about his generous giving,” Jaime said. At IVC, Goldsberry served on the Academic Senate for a time, was a member of the safety committee, created an EMS advisory committee, and was always on duty during the college’s commencement ceremonies, Jaime said.
He volunteered for the International Relief Teams, a nonprofit humanitarian organization, through which he made multiple foreign deployments and taught advanced medical training classes in Lithuania
and Latvia, his family said. He provided medical care under austere conditions following devastating earthquakes in Kobe, Japan, and Port au Prince, Haiti.
Goldsberry’s niece Lindsey Smith echoed much of what has been said about her uncle.
Known as an encouraging man with a dry wit, she said he often told his students, “I believe in you; you can do it.”
“There is no way to measure the number of lives he had a hand in saving and the number of people he touched in his time on this earth,” Smith said. “He truly loved teaching, and his students meant the world to him.”
Goldsberry’s career as a paramedic began in 1979 with Gold Cross Ambulance Co. Over the ensuing decades he would work at El Centro Regional Medical Center as an Emergency Department RN, Mobilen Intensive Care nurse, and shift leader (1992 to 1995). He was a part-time instructor in the IVC Paramedic Program from 1992 to 2008, and Emergency Department RN and clinical coordinator at Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District from 1995 to 1998. He became Pioneers’ director of staff education in 1998, leaving that post in October 2008.
In September 2008, he became the IVC director of EMS training programs, a position he held until his death.
In his 37 years as a member of the medical community, Goldsberry was recognized as the 1991 ALS Provider of the Year, 2001 Imperial Valley Man of the Year, 2008 PMHD Employee of the Year, and the 2010 Imperial County Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer of the Year following his efforts during the 2009 H1N1 Mass Vaccination Campaign.
Smith said her family is grateful to the Pioneers Memorial Hospital staff who provided him with “exceptional care during his time there.”
She said contributions may be made in Goldsberry’s honor to the American Red Cross International Relief Fund, San Diego Chapter, or Doctors Without Borders.