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Ten Stories of Hero Paramedics

Being a first responder isn't easy. It can be stressful and full of life-altering responsibilities. So why become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)? Beyond the satisfaction and fulfillment of helping people, there are countless paramedic success stories that reveal why EMTs do what they do.

The beauty of these EMT stories is that they are simply the stories of ordinary people who chose to follow an extraordinary calling.

  • LEARN MORE ABOUT EMS DEGREESJoseph Biundo, an EMT in Long Island, New York, was just finishing up a night shift when he walked into a doughnut shop for his nightly coffee, something he had done hundreds of times before. This time, however, his carbon monoxide detector, purchased only recently after the death of a local business owner, began going off. Biundo asked the doughnut shop employee if he was feeling symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. When the employee said he felt fine, Biundo was sure the device was malfunctioning. Even so, something told him to check again. After clearing the device, he asked the employee if he could walk back to the ovens. The device confirmed this time that the entire shop was flooded with CO. Biundo quickly evacuated the building and called a dispatcher. It would have been an easy thing to write off the alarm as a fluke from a malfunctioning piece of hardware. His instincts prevented the silent and untimely death of the shop employee.
  • David Baquet was just enjoying a quick lunch when he chanced into a life-threatening situation. He was between classes at the University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit, when an elderly man rushed in and frantically asked if any of the restaurant staff was trained in CPR. His wife, a 69-year-old woman, had gone into cardiac arrest as they were driving home. Baquet immediately rushed into action, leaving his lunch on the table, and began chest compressions on the woman. He managed to restart her heart and stabilize her before on-duty paramedics arrived to transport her to the hospital.
  • Brian Bailey and Alexandra Gallucci were only trainees when they were first required to make practical use of their training. While waiting for their training officer outside a police station in Boston, Massachusetts, a man approached their vehicle, saying his wife was having contractions. The two students along with their training officer managed to get the laboring woman into the rig. They had almost arrived at the hospital when her contractions, already 30 seconds apart, let them know that delivery was imminent. Bailey delivered the woman a healthy baby girl, saying that, when under the pressure "the training just kicks in."
  • Even retired, the paramedic training never really seems to let go of former first responders. Richard Bratcher was on his way back to Philadelphia to tie up a few loose ends before his retirement when an announcement came over the plane’s speaker system. A passenger in coach had become very ill and the plane staff was searching for anyone on board with medical training. Bratcher volunteered, though it had been several years since he had actually served as a paramedic. The training came flooding back the moment he saw the sick man. The flight landed in Philadelphia nearly an hour ahead of schedule, by which time Bratcher had administered fluids, aspirin, and oxygen to the man, who had recovered enough to be talking and laughing with his new hero.
  • Off-duty paramedic Ben Foley was given a good story for the Christmas Party he was attending when he witnessed a car crash on the Neponset Bridge in Boston, Massachusetts. Instead of pulling around the accident and carrying on with his evening, Foley pulled over to help. One of the drivers was nearly unconscious, choking on smoke from his burning engine. As Foley managed to pull the man from the car, the engine began belching 6-foot flames, threatening to explode. He kept the man well away from the burning car and managed to keep him stable until help arrived on the scene.
  • Erik Cleveland has saved two lives while off-duty. In 2012, he revived an 88-year-old woman in a local shopping mall. In 2014, while accompanying his wife to the farmer's market in Lancaster County, Pennsylvannia, he assisted a woman who was suffering from both diabetic shock and a mild stroke. When asked later about the situations, he said he simply “wanted to help people who were in need.”
  • Volunteer EMT Kevin Ege was working his day job when a coworker collapsed and fellow colleagues were unable to revive him or, due to a system glitch, dial 911. Kevin discovered the patient non-responsive, with no pulse. He grabbed the brand new automated external defibrillator (AED) machine and gave his coworkers a quick tutorial in how to administer CPR. After administering two shocks to the patient, he was able to get the coworker breathing on his own by the time on-duty paramedics arrived. It was no accident that the company had only just purchased an AED. Ege had been a relentless advocate for its purchase since beginning work at the company. He had only been successful in his efforts within the last month.
  • Having a baby born prematurely is hard enough, but Ashley Witherspoon had her fears redoubled when her 8-month-old stopped breathing during a shopping trip. EMT Lahassandra Brown overheard employees talking about what was happening and rushes to the pharmacy to render aid. A sheriff’s deputy was already on the scene, administering CPR when Brown stepped in to help. The infant was transported to a local hospital, but Brown, who normally deals with adults and the elderly, says that this experience has given her more confidence in dealing with emergencies involving young children.
  • Kimberly Grim was only prepared to be a spectator at her daughter’s volleyball tournament when she noticed a woman in  distress at the event. After assessing the situation, she ran around the corner of the gymnasium, where an AED was positioned, and managed to restart the woman's heart. "Anytime we can save a life, it feels good," she later said.
  • Occasionally, an EMT going above and beyond has the opportunity for true recognition of their services. Lucas Sobeck was off-duty and driving home when he noticed a car on the side of the road, its driver unmoving. He pulled over and found Carolyn Rhinehart unresponsive behind the wheel. Along with other EMTs, Sobeck broke Rhinehart's window glass and managed to free her from the car. After recovering from what turned out to be a heart attack, Rhinehart was able to meet Sobeck and thank him at a recognition ceremony. Sobeck, while grateful for the recognition, echoes many of the EMT stories when he insists that he was only doing his job.

Why become an EMT? Perhaps that question has been answered in these paramedic success stories. It is by no means an easy job, but it is one that contains immense reward.