Urban Paramedic, Esquire

10/14/2008

By Renée Graham


As a Boston paramedic for more than 20 years, Jay Weaver ’99 knows firsthand what it’s like to aid bodies broken, burned, or eroded by disease. There’s the case of the young man who had climbed onto the roof of a subway train in Boston’s South Station and had come into contact with a 25,000-volt wire. Or the 12-year-old girl, stricken with terminal cancer, who gasped, “Please don’t let me die,” and subsequently stopped breathing.

But Weaver is also a lawyer, and he is well aware of the legal ramifications of his efforts to treat patients. So he understood that, in attempting to revive the girl, he would have to break the law. The girl, who became a ward of the state when her mother was murdered, had recently agreed to a court-mandated do-not-resuscitate order. Faced with a choice of doing what was morally right—to save the girl’s life—or obey the law, he and his partner agreed to try to resuscitate her, but she later died at the hospital. “Our consciences were clear,” Weaver says, “But we did, in fact, violate the law.”

Weaver’s knowledge of the law has proven indispensable for his job as a paramedic for Boston’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on the city’s sometimes unruly streets. Now he’s applying and broadening what he learned in law school: he’s a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate Corps (JAG), the army’s legal department. In February, he began active duty and training in Fort Lee, VA, during which he also attended the army’s law school to study military law. Upon his return he was stationed in Germany, where he provides legal services to soldiers, such as drawing up wills, powers of attorney, and health proxies before they deploy.

The assignment marks Weaver’s first opportunity to work as a lawyer, though he complete his JD at Suffolk in 1999. As a father of two with a full-time job as a paramedic, he had no opportunity for the internships and clerkships that are so important in launching a legal career.

Still, he wanted to use his law school education. For months, Weaver, 47, called around to the various armed services, but they weren’t interested in him because he was over the age limit of 35. Years later, he received a large package, requested by his wife, inviting him to apply to become a JAG officer.

Weaver is humbled by yet another opportunity to serve others—and excited about  his newest mission. “I’m looking forward to the challenge, and I’m looking forward to being challenged,” he says. “At the moment I said those words [the oath to be sworn into the U.S. Army], it struck home that this isn’t something I would like to do, this is something I am now doing. Now, I’m looking forward to serving in a way I never thought I would have the opportunity to do.”

 

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