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Who are your “Stars of Life”?

Who are your “Stars of Life”?

From time to time, I am asked, “Why did you get into EMS?” I even ask that question, usually it’s when students enter our Paramedicine program or they are applying for a letter of recommendation through our University pre-medical school review committee.  I usually hear answers like, “My Mom was a Paramedic.”, or “My Dad was a Fire Fighter.”.   A couple of the students have had very compelling stories of experiencing near death events, or worse, actually seeing someone die while the student was very young.  Most however, have a family member in emergency services that was as inspiration…. a “star” that has shone brightly as their inspiration during their move towards becoming a Paramedic.  I can say, that is not my story.

I grew up not knowing anyone in EMS, although back then, it was not commonly called EMS.  Most of my time and energy during my youth were spent working towards becoming a high school band director.  Hours during and after school were nearly all consumed by practices and performances. (If you are familiar with drum corps, time and money were the only things that kept me out of DCI!)

After starting college, I heard about an EMT class being taught by a technical school at a nearby Rescue Squad.  I borrowed a car and drove twice a week to the class for months.  I completed the class successfully and earned my card.  Unfortunately, I was unable to put my skills and knowledge to use anywhere because none of the local Rescue Squads or fire departments would accept my application. Then an acquaintance told me about a Paramedicine program in the mountains of NC at Western Carolina University.  Since I already had college credits, it just made sense to transfer!  I did so, and I completed my BS in emergency medical care (with a minor in “lots” of music performance).

My work in EMS has taken me from a fairly rural service as an EMT, to a similar one as a Paramedic; then a large urban setting as a Paramedic (performing rescues) and even working as a director of Quality Assurance for a large private EMS agency and in an ER in Saudi Arabia.  During my career, I have had my own EMS “Stars” to inspire me along the way.  Some of them you will know (and I will mention here) and some you will not. 

One that I will put into the “star” category is Dr. Walt Stoy.  I met Dr. Stoy over 15 years ago during a chance meeting at a conference.  As I recall, we were walking down a hallway together and we struck up a conversation about some EMS topic.  To be blunt, I completely disagreed with him! But, he patiently listened to my points and we debated / discussed the matter for several minutes late that night. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Stoy, he’s well known in EMS and (at the time) I was absolutely NOT!   Nevertheless, he took the time to listen, respond and form a relationship with me. Every time I am approached by people at a conference with questions or concerns, I take all the time they need to talk.  And, while I’m doing so, I remember that late night conversation with. Dr. Stoy.

Mr. Danny Miller is a “star” in multiple ways. He is completely dedicated to EMS and the program.  For people that do not really know us, they hear us “arguing” about a topic and assume we are really angry at each other.  That can’t be further from the truth! In actuality, we’re just engaging in vigorous debate. It’s because we trust each other that we can stretch the limits of the process so far that we can raise voices, push (emotional) buttons and even laugh.  It is true however, that I really do wish I could draw as well as he does!

Another “star” is our very own chair, Ms. Nancye Davis. I remember meeting Ms. Davis when interviewed for a job at EKU in 1996.  She has always been a good friend and a supporter.  When I was ready to step down from the role of program director in order to attend my doctoral program, she stepped up and took over. No person could have done a better job managing the resources of the program and fighting to assure that we were a part of the conversations across campus. I tend to put people into categories based upon how much I can trust them. My trust in Ms. Davis is absolute.  She will take the time to remind me that good deeds matter.

As you go through life, I hope that you will take a little time to identify some of the “stars” in your life. Each of them has enriched you in some way and can it only help you and your “stars” to recognize that value.​


Dr. Sandy Hunter

Published on July 22, 2016

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