Jerry Primeau retires after 50 years with Mercy EMS, Inc.

Jerry Primeau, CEO of Mercy EMS, Inc., retired from his role after 50 years of serving the community. His EMS career started in 1970 when he started working for Mercy Ambulance as a part-time, pay-per-call Ambulance Attendant while attending Michigan Technological University. In 1971, he graduated from MTU with an Associate Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology and also completed an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course. The course curriculum from the American College of Surgeons, Committee of Trauma and Transportation was taught by Dr. David Gilbert, a local surgeon. After completing the EMT course, Dr. Gilbert continued on with one of the first paramedic courses in Michigan. In 1976, Primeau was one of only five students to complete the initial paramedic course.

Also in 1976, the owners of Mercy Ambulance put the company up for sale. On March 1, 1976, Primeau and his wife, Pat, were the new owners of Mercy Ambulance Service. As this was pre-911, the ambulance phones needed to be in their home, and they answered calls 24 hours, 7 days a week. Primeau and his wife shared administrative duties of dispatch, insurance billing, bookkeeping, payroll, and everything else that comes with owning a business. In addition, Primeau was also included in the employee pool of EMT’s and Paramedics who responded to emergency calls.

In 1983, Primeau successfully completed an instructor/Coordinator course offered by the Michigan Department of Public Health, EMS Division (MDPH-EMS). Since then, he has been offering courses for Medical First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians, and Paramedics. Also that same year, Mercy Ambulance Service became the first license Paramedic service in Michigan.

After 27 years of Mercy Ambulance ownership, Primeau and his wife sold the service to Marquette General Hospital (now known as UP Health System – Marquette) in 2003. His wife retired, but Primeau continued on as the general manager of Mercy for Marquette General Hospital.

Five years later in 2008, Marquette General Hospital sold the company to the two local hospitals, UP Health System – Portage and Aspirus Keweenaw where Mercy EMS, Inc. remains today. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position was then offered to Primeau, to which he accepted. Shortly before retirement in November of 2019, Primeau was designated as the Top Administrator within the state by the Bureau of EMS Trauma & Preparedness, which is overseen by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.

Jerry Primeau has held many titles including Ambulance Attendant, Emergency Medical Technician, Paramedic, Instructor-Coordinator, Owner, President, Manager, and CEO.

“All have presented me with challenges unique to each title,” Primeau said. “I am sure responding to these challenges has played a huge part in my longevity in EMS. Of the titles listed, Paramedic is the position most rewarding to me. Responding and caring for patients who are possibly having the worst day of their life has been most rewarding.”


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