Rick was an EMT in the US before moving to Chernarus. Working in Florida, he experienced everything from tourist accidents to gang violence and stabilized and transported people with all the injuries that those two activities can encompass. As with many EMTs, the burnout set in quickly, and Rick's coping method of choice tended to be drinks and painkillers. Lucky for him, Florida was still a pill mill state, and the pills he wanted were easy to come by, if not cheap.
Still close to his aging parents, he accompanied them on a winter trip to Chernarus and fell in love with the country. The old buildings and history on every block, the simpler way of life in the countryside, and the beautiful scenery (and the temperatures!) were all a stark contrast to his life in Florida. Rick decided that a change of pace and a new setting would be the best way to clean his life up and to either refocus on working in the medical field, or finally make a clean break and find something new to do with his life. It also helped his motivation to leave when his parents, who he was so close to, were informed of his bad habits by a well-meaning, if naive, coworker. He didn't want to face them again until he could tell them he was clean. Plus, Chernarus was cheap, and he loved good food and drinks. Maybe it would be therapeutic. Self-directed rehab.
After arriving in Chernarus, four months before the outbreak, Rick settled into something of an early-retirement routine, spending more time at the bar than volunteering (he decided to stay in the medical field), and living on his meager savings from the US. Just prior to the general public gaining knowledge of the outbreak he had been on a call when a group of people - thought at the time to be a gang - rushed him and the group of police on-scene near Severograd. All that day he had been treating rashes, assuming that whatever these people were running from just happened to push them through a ton of poison oak. He recognized many of the people he had treated in that "gang" that attacked him and the police, but he didn't recognize the personalities. He had spoken with many of these people, sharing his broken Czech and Chernarussian while those who knew a little practiced their English with him. He knew something was wrong, but not what. They were acting like cavemen, even those he had been laughing and joking with just hours prior. There was nothing behind their eyes. As the police ushered him into their van and fled the scene, he wondered if it could be rabies. Europe had nearly eradicated rabies, but it wouldn't be the first thing different about Chernarus, he reasoned. Maybe it was some kind of chemical weapons attack or test by Russia, he thought, not even really believing it as he thought it. He knew that tensions between the two countries were high, if not the specifics of why.
After being evacuated from Severograd and getting a referral from a police officer friend for an independent contractor job tending to soldiers near South Zagoria, he stood by as that work slowed down, finally drying up entirely when the Chernarussian military abruptly pulled out of the area. After living and breathing his work for the second week of the outbreak, Rick had very little context of what was going on outside. He finally felt like he had a serious purpose, even if he didn't necessarily understand or even agree with what the Chernarussian military was doing. He still knew he was doing something important. Before the news stopped broadcasting, he caught the gist of the story of the outbreak, but he was shocked at the speed of the descent into chaos. He had come to believe in Chernarus and didn't expect the fall to come so quickly, or so completely. He was alone, aimless, and devastated about the state of his new home - and to top it off, someone had stolen his rickety old car right out from the base parking lot.
Rick's initial goal after finding that the infrastructure is completely down is to survive. As he manages to gain a foothold on his hunger and thirst through hunting and fishing, his reason for continuing is to help others. He is deeply affected by what has happened to what he came to see as his new home, and has returned to his painkiller habit with a vengeance to cope. When he has access to codeine pills, morphine injectors, or his favorite, oxycodone, he is polite and helpful. When he has difficulty finding one of these two vices, he still feels an obligation to help, but his regard for self falls significantly, and his bedside manner suffers in equal measure. He is quick to indulge in drugs or drink and, while his upbringing in the US with a Marine Corps veteran and gun-loving father gave him more weapons experience than most, his will to fight is much weaker than his will to get intoxicated.