EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement officers, nurses and physicians respond to emergencies and tragedies as part of their duty and calling in life. Most will tell you they have their dream job, coming to the aid of those in need.
They often put their lives in danger when rescuing and treating others. But the most difficult part of the job may be when the people they are helping aren’t strangers, but rather family members or friends.
Perry Blackburn experienced that in February 2016. Blackburn, a paramedic and the emergency medical services coordinator in Ware County, Georgia, responded to a serious vehicle crash involving his sister, Gina. Emergency personnel had to extricate her from the vehicle. Her injuries were severe. Ware County EMS called for an air ambulance from Douglas, Georgia, to transport her to TraumaOne at UF Health Jacksonville.
After her initial treatment to stabilize life-threatening injuries, she underwent surgery, followed by a long stay in the transitional care unit and the rehabilitation center at UF Health Jacksonville. She recovered well and has since returned home to her family.
“All Waycross and Ware County public safety organizations, along with AirEvac 90 and UF Health, did an outstanding job with my sister's care,” Perry Blackburn said. “That is what EMS is all about — reducing disability and saving lives.”
Ware County dispatchers, first responders and UF Health Jacksonville trauma personnel were among those honored Feb. 7 by the Blackburn family. The “Heroes Thank You” highlighted the importance of coordination among emergency agencies when it comes to helping the community.
The ceremony was a reunion of those involved in saving Gina Blackburn’s life. EMS and public safety personnel received a thank you plaque during the ceremony. UF Health physicians and staff traveled to Waycross to receive the recognition.