Editor’s Note: The First Responders Friday series is a weekly feature focusing on the men and women in law enforcement, emergency services and fire services who serve in our community every day.

Name: Rebecca White

Agency: Onslow County Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Years Served: 7

Rank or Title: Paramedic

What made you decide on this career path? My mother worked in military and civilian law enforcement, so shows like Cops and Rescue 911 were nightly staples in our home growing up. Listening to William Shatner retell harrowing stories of survival sparked my interest in emergency services. So, when it came time to complete a service-learning project for school, I chose to volunteer with a local rescue squad. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I quickly fell in love with the work.

What is it you love about working in your community? I love our military. Growing up as a military brat myself, I love meeting others who have had some of the same experiences or lived in some of the same places. Most of the patients we care for are having a horrible day, they’re sick or injured and extremely stressed from whatever circumstances led them to call 911. Being able to connect personally can quickly change their day and lead to interesting conversations, both of which are rewarding.

Where else have you worked in the past? I started as a volunteer with a local rescue squad and that led to my current position with the county. Other places I’ve tried out part time just didn’t feel like the home I have here in Onslow County.

Describe the road to your current position. It sure was a bumpy one. About nine years ago, I found myself a single mom with three young kids. At the time, I was a high school dropout with no real career or training. I began taking courses at Coastal Carolina with the intention of applying to a nursing program. During my second semester, a professor offered an opportunity to complete a service learning project for extra credit. Among the opportunities listed was one with a local rescue squad, something that seemed close to my intended career in the medical field. My time as a volunteer changed my chosen path as my passion grew for pre-hospital medicine. Before the ink dried on my EMT certification, I had already sent an application to the county. Since being hired into a full-time position in 2010, I’ve been fortunate enough to obtain my paramedic certification, work as a preceptor for the next generation of EMS, and complete a bachelor’s degree.

What was the most memorable case you’ve worked? Unfortunately, in EMS memorable is usually synonymous with tragedy. I really enjoy taking care of pediatric patients. They’re almost always scared of what may come with being in an ambulance, making caring for them a challenge. It’s especially rewarding to be able to lighten their mood and show them they have nothing to fear from first responders because kids can be tough critics!

What pushes you to stay on this career path and continue working in such a challenging position? The wonderful thing about EMS is every day is different. We get to see different parts of the community and meet new people every day. Each call is an individual challenge where we get to use our skill set and knowledge base to help people during their worst days. There are few other jobs that let you wear the hat of clinician, social worker, counselor, advocate, and educator on the same day, and that variety keeps me in EMS.

 

Want to nominate someone for FRF? Contact Mike McHugh at Mike.McHugh@JDNews.com with the person’s name, phone number, what organization they work for and a brief reason why you think they should be featured.