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Aug 28, 2012 1:43 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Bridgehampton Volunteer EMT Jim Walker Is Moving South After Decades Of Service

Aug 28, 2012 4:00 PM

For Philippe Cheng and expectant mother Bastienne Schmidt, Bridgehampton Fire Department EMT Jim Walker is a miracle worker. In the early morning hours of February 8, 2002, Mr. Walker’s careful, steady hands delivered and rescued newborn Julian Cheng from the umbilical cord that was strangling him.

Now, 10 years later, Julian and his parents are saying goodbye to the man who helped perform that miracle.

Mr. Walker is moving to North Carolina to escape the high cost of living on the South Fork, and to be closer to his grandchildren. After more than three decades of around-the-clock, life-saving service to the Bridgehampton community, he and his significant other, Judy Edwards, will leave at the end of September.

“We can’t survive—enough is enough,” Ms. Edwards said outside of the RV they’ve been living in since June, when Ms. Edwards sold her home on Murray Place. Mr. Walker sold his home, which was located just across the street, in October 2011. The couple has been staying in the camper in a neighbor’s backyard since then.

“We wanted to be able to wind down and not have to deal with the hassles of living in the Hamptons,” Mr. Walker said.

For those who have come to count on Jimmy Walker, his departure is a sad one.

A member of the Bridgehampton Fire Department since the late 1970s, Mr. Walker has seen a lot. Answering just about every call he hears, he said he responds to about 200 calls a year on average out of about 500 that come through the department.

Out of all of his responses, however, he counts Julian’s birth as the best of his thousands of calls over 30-plus years as a volunteer EMT.

“Julian is like a son to me,” he said. “When Julian went to visit his grandparents in Greece, he called me to tell me he loves me.”

Every year on Julian’s birthday, Mr. Cheng and his wife, Ms. Schmidt, invite Mr. Walker and the crew he responded with to their home. His team—Jen Halsey, Jim O’Brien, and retired Southampton Town Police Detective Sergeant Randy Hintze—all had a hand in delivering baby Julian.

“It’s only natural,” Mr. Cheng said last week. “We see Jen, John and Jim all throughout the year, but certainly around Julian’s birthday we feel deeply compelled to reach out to them to show a small thanks. It’s just a nice ritual we started.”

Mr. Cheng and Ms. Schmidt had plans to deliver the baby at their Upper West Side apartment late in February 2002—but Julian had other plans. Born two weeks early, in his mother’s bathroom, he entered the world blue-faced and breathless. Det. Sgt. Hintz helped with the delivery but soon realized the troubling situation. Once the Bridgehampton Fire Department ambulance arrived, Mr. Walker cut the cord with emergency equipment.

“Everything happened so quickly,” Mr. Cheng recalled last week. “He went out the door under Jim’s jacket in a second.”

Mr. Walker, who had just taught a class on infancy CPR earlier that night, carried Julian to the ambulance, where he performed CPR. About six minutes into the ambulance ride, Julian began to breathe.

“We were, and are, lucky,” Mr. Cheng said. “Looking back now, the most fulfilling thing for us all was to maintain a relationship with him. Julian and he have always, even before he was aware enough to understand that this man saved his life, had a connection beyond any rational linear thought process.”

Of course, not every call in Mr. Walker’s long history with the ambulance was so miraculous. Just as he had the “privilege” of responding to his “best call,” he also had the horror of responding to the “worst call” of his life, when his 17-year-old daughter, Tiffane, was struck by a car in front of the Bridgehampton School in June 1998. He was the first responder to arrive at the scene.

According to Mr. Walker, who told the story very carefully, Tiffane had just gone back to get her purse she left at the school after “rec night,” when a motorist, who had briefly taken her eyes off the road while heading westbound on Montauk Highway, struck her. “She was still alive but not breathing,” he said. “I tried working on her, but I couldn’t.”

Tiffane was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead early the next morning.

“Personally, I never held any bad feelings toward the lady—it’s the only way, it’s God’s way,” Mr. Walker, a Eucharistic minister at the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Bridgehampton, said of the driver. “For the number of years I’ve gone to the scene, I’ve told people, ‘It’s only an accident.’ If I tell you that, I’ve got to believe it.”

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Thank you Mr. Walker for your many years of service!!
By WM11976 (12), Water Mill on Aug 31, 12 8:01 AM
Thank you for all you have done for the east end community. The world needs more people like you! Best wishes for the next chapter.
By theotherfin (2), southampton on Aug 31, 12 8:26 AM
2 members liked this comment
Outrageous property taxes and electricity rates chasing good people off Long Island.

What a surprise.

..and those who proclaim their love for the middle class tell us we should be paying even higher taxes.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Aug 31, 12 10:31 AM
2 members liked this comment
I want to thank Jim for all his many, many years of service to the entire East End Community and wish him and Judy well in the future. Thank you, Jim!
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Aug 31, 12 6:49 PM
Thank you Mr. Walker for your years of service !! Enjoy your retirement !!!
By williamjshea (1), on Sep 4, 12 2:17 PM