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In the fall of 2006, I was the stay-at-home mother of two boys – Matt, 12, and Mason, 4. With my youngest child starting kindergarten the following year, I felt it was time for me to think about going back to work. Most of my work experience was in retail, and frankly, I had no desire to return to it. This was a new opportunity to me, and I wanted a career – not just a job, but a career that would set a good example for my boys and make them proud of their mom.
As I began my search for my new role, I considered several options, including nursing, but I quickly decided that none of those options were right for me. I had a friend who worked for Lancaster County EMS, and it occurred to me that this might be just what I was looking for. I asked him how I could learn more about the service and he told me about the ride-along program. The program allowed those who are interested to accompany EMS crews on the units as volunteers, giving them the opportunity to decide whether it is something they wanted to pursue. I called and made arrangements to start the ride-along program. In no time at all, I decided it was exactly what I wanted to do. My plan was to begin classes as soon as possible to become an EMT basic. Little did I know, a few weeks into my training, my life would change forever.
On Jan. 29, 2007, as my two boys and my nephew were playing outside, my house was literally rocked by a gasoline explosion in my backyard. Terrified, I ran out of the house and into the yard to see what was going on. Matt, my 12-year-old son, had been severely burned in the explosion. How ironic it was; I had just begun my rescuer training, and now it was my child that lay there in need of being rescued. Paramedics arrived and we were taken to a local hospital, where he was then airlifted to a burn center. Twenty-six days later, on Feb. 21, 2007, we lost him to complications from his injuries.
As you can imagine, my family and I were absolutely devastated. At times, I wasn’t sure how I would make it through that dark time or if I would make it through. As time went by, it became more evident to me that I had to get back to school and continue with my plan. I still wanted my boys to be proud of me. On the worst day of my life, EMS was there to help and I couldn’t wait to return that help to others.
Not only was I back on my journey to become a rescuer, but that very journey has kept me from being swallowed up by sadness. Since then, many good things have occurred in my life. I am now a paramedic and I love it. It is my true calling and I am grateful for the opportunity. It is my pleasure to serve the citizens of Lancaster County.