Rick Trego, security officer in Akron Children’s public safety, believes that small acts of kindness make a big difference. Whether at work or in the community, Rick regularly interacts with people in ways that let them know he understands their need for self-respect and dignity. By showing empathy or making a connection, Rick is often able to restore calm and order or de-escalate a stressful or unnerving situation.
“If you’ve ever been an inpatient in a hospital, you know how difficult it can be,” he said. “I see families and patients come into the hospital, and for whatever reason, they appear confused, upset or scared. If I can give them directions, comfort or simply display a calm demeanor, it’s very rewarding to me. Sometimes, all they need is a little help and understanding.”
After 40 years of assisting and protecting Children’s patients, visitors, employees and property, Rick retires on September 10. He looks forward to spending time with his wife and family, catching up with friends and tinkering in his “ultimate man cave,” a decked-out garage filled with Americana memorabilia.
What brought you to Children’s?
I was taking criminal justice classes at The University of Akron. There was a woman seated next to me, and we would talk. She offered me a part-time job working weekends in Children’s public safety department. Later, I found out that she was Linda Markley, Children’s former security director.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
After I graduated with my associate’s degree, I became full-time at Children’s. In public safety, we work proactively to ensure a safe and secure environment. We patrol the campus and surrounding areas, remain visible, stay alert and assist people. Over the last decade, we’ve expanded our safety and security services, such as adding more law-enforcement services that mirror our municipal police counterparts.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
I oversaw Children’s parking services for many years and tried to make it an easy experience. To say the least, that wasn’t easy! As Children’s grew, we were limited by where to build parking decks and their cost. I’ve been fortunate to work with many good people to make our parking the best it’s ever been. For instance, we installed parking booths to add a human touch, help family and visitors with directions and parking-related concerns and provide consistency in the hours visitors are charged at our parking decks.
What’s your most memorable and/or happiest moment at Akron Children’s?
It’s when I see or meet past patients with whom I interacted. Many times, I may not remember or recognize them. Yet, when they say they remember me or mention how well they were treated by me or one of my colleagues, it’s gratifying to hear. I credit and thank all my past directors, managers and supervisors, who made me the officer I am today.
With so many little children here, did someone or something especially touch your heart?
One of our nurses asked me to wait with her young son until her husband arrived. While we made small talk, I gave him a silver foil junior officer badge sticker. Fifteen years later, he came into our office wearing a City of Akron police uniform. He told me that when I gave him that sticker, it made him feel important. After that, he wanted a career where he helped people and made them feel important. It doesn’t get better than that!
What do you look forward to the most in retirement?
The pandemic limited all of us from spending time with family and friends. I want to spend holidays with the people I love, play cards with friends and do all those things that I haven’t made time for.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Be patient with others. In a hospital environment, you’ll encounter many types of personalities, and some people will test your patience. Good de-escalation skills come with years of experience but will make you a better person in bad situations.
What couldn’t you live without?
Oxygen, water, food, blood! Just the basics. Hey, you asked!
What music do you like? Where and how do you listen to it?
Rhythm and blues, soul music and jazz. I have a huge music collection, which I listen to in my garage and car.
What’s the last book your read?
“Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi” by Bob Woodward.