The Manning Times is doing a series of stories on first responders in the county in hopes of giving people an inside look on all the hard work put into keeping our county safe. This is the third story in the series.
TMT: Tell me about yourself.
SH: I’ve been a paramedic for a very long time. I have worked in Clarendon County for a long time. We switched over and we merged in 2020. With the fire department, we became Clarendon Fire Rescue. I love what I do. I’m also a grandmother of five. My grandchildren keep me busy on my days off. I love what I do. I love helping people.
TMT: What inspired you to become a paramedic?
SH: I like helping people. I was in a car accident in 1986 and a crew picked us up from the scene. I liked how they helped us and I thought that’s something that I’d want to do or felt I wanted to do. So, I went on and got my basic EMT, which is one of the lower levels. I wanted to be able to do more. So I went on, furthered my education, and became a paramedic. I’ve been a paramedic since 2000.
TMT: What was education and training like? Did you find it difficult?
SH: Oh, it’s tough. It’s very intense. It is involved and it takes a while to go through. There’s a lot of clinical time and a lot of training that’s put into it, which we continue. We train all the time. We’re continuously training and educating ourselves to be better to help our community.
TMT: Tell me about your duties as a paramedic.
SH: I’m in the queue for an RV, which is a quick response vehicle. We are responding behind units that do not have advanced life support on board. Whenever they get dispatched to a call, and it sounds like it’s a really sick patient or someone that may need advanced care, they follow behind that truck, responding to where they go. And if they need me, I’m on my truck and I’ll take care of that patient until we get to the hospital and turn care over to the nurses and ER physician. As far as the shift duties and responsibilities, I handle the QA and reports. And I keep up where my trucks are, making sure that the closest truck is going to the closest call. That is so involved. It’s just busy.
TMT: What motivates you as a paramedic?
SH: I love what I do. I love helping people. I love the service that I work for. If you’ve met any of them, you’ll love them. It’s like a whole other family. We are a family. We work together. When you see some of the things that we see and do the things that we have to do, you kind of have to be a close, close-knit group. We have to know everybody’s weaknesses and everybody’s strengths in order to make everything come together and work well for the patient.
TMT: What are your strengths and weaknesses as a paramedic?
SH: Well, I can take anything but when somebody vomits, I’m gonna vomit. That’s the hardest thing: blood, guts, broken bones, all kinds of stuff that didn’t bother me, but vomiting? That gets to me. So, I’m just going to vomit with them.
TMT: Tell me how stressful being a paramedic can be.
SH: Oh, it’s very stressful and very intense. Because you never know when that tone drops what’s coming out. And then sometimes, you know, I tell dispatch one thing and we get on scene is totally something else. We are mentally preparing ourselves for that call. So we will know if we need any additional resources, like a helicopter, or if we’re going to need another truck if we have multiple patients. So you never know what you’re going to see when you get on scene.
TMT: Have you ever encountered a dangerous and/or risky situation within this job?
SH: We run into that a lot. In the line of work we do, we go into shootings, we go into stabbings, we go into multiple vehicle accidents with entrapment, patients that are unresponsive, and patients that are really, really sick. So yes, when we get dispatched, we may be dispatched to somebody and when we get there they’ve been shot. So do we know that the shooter is there or is the shooter gone? If we know in advance that we’re going to a stabbing or shooting, we call law enforcement to be first on scene to clear a scene to make sure it’s safe for us to go in there. But if we go in there and then they have multiple people there, one may be a shooting victim and then the person that shot them doesn’t want you to help them. Then everybody has their anxiety levels really high. There’s usually arguing going on. So, we want to make sure the scenes are clear before we go in there. We go into a lot of bad situations. Like our mental health patients, those are tough. If they want to hurt themselves, they don’t care about you either. That’s why we call law enforcement for them, as well. They can get on scene and make sure they don’t have any weapons or anything like that. But there’s always some that aren’t clear before we respond and the situation is pretty tough.
TMT:What’s your favorite thing about the job?
SH: Being able to help people, working with the wonderful team that we have at Clarendon County Fire Department. Our chiefs are awesome. They’re out there. They’re listening. If we need them, they’re there on bad calls and stuff like that. We know they’re on their way.