Winter 2018 – Shift Change at Kempsville Volunteer Rescue Squad, Station 9

By Joel Rubin

The best time to meet the most volunteer EMTs at any station is around 6:00 p.m., when the day shift checks out and the overnight one checks in.

At Station 9 I met Katie East and Dan Russell, who both have run rescue for nearly six years and are partners most nights. “I get to hang out with my best friend,” says Dan, a Tallwood High grad and, like his buddy, an employee at LifeNet. Katie, a Kellam High alum, has EMS in her veins. Her father was with the VB squad, her mom Ocean Park’s. “I love to give back to the community just like they did,” says Katie. The pair had little time to talk, out the door quickly to respond to call one on this Friday evening.

Terry Smith, a real estate agent and investor, signed on in 2014 at the urging of some friends in the system. “I was in the Jaycees, where I was encouraged to take my involvement in the community to a higher level,” he recalls. He has.

Terry’s toughest day? Three cardiac arrests including an 87-year-old and a 4-year-old, neither of whom survived. “That was hard.” What makes this service to his fellow citizens worthwhile? “When I get a thank you.” Like the woman he treated who had broken her leg, then recognized him later and recalled the kind man in the white shirt. Or the spousal abuse victim who was beaten and bloodied when Terry arrived on the scene. “Later I saw her at Lowe’s, and I barely recognized her because she was all cleaned up and fortunately away from her abuser,” he remembers. “She said, ‘you’re the ambulance man!’ Those times stick with you.”

Navy vet Tom Kiernan has been involved in volunteer EMS in Virginia Beach since 1984. For ten years, he was an operational member, for the past fifteen he’s been in administration. Today Tom is President of the squad in the sprawling and “generous” Kempsville community, “with whom we have such a great relationship.” All three of his children have followed dad into volunteer service. Daniel is now a paid or career medic in the city. Zack is in medical school at EVMS after graduating from Virginia Tech. Caitlin uses her biology degree from CNU as an RN at Sentara Leigh. Her husband Korey is a Navy helicopter flight medic and, like his wife, still runs rescue regularly with the KVRS. “They all loved the instant gratification you get,” says Tom, who believes one key to being a successful provider is “communication with the patient, being able to establish confidence and trust.”

Nodding beside him, not from being up for 14 hours on one of the eight shifts he takes each month, is the 68-year-old Energizer Bunny of the squad, Pat Boyd. Pat’s resume includes 20 years in the Navy, 22 with Northrup Grumman, several more as a boat captain and a furniture builder, ending “when my wife said ‘I don’t need any more cabinets.’”

Having survived leukemia, the result he says of Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam, Pat saw an ad in the Beacon four years ago promoting volunteer rescue and dived in. Today he is one of the squad’s training sergeants and a role model to his younger colleagues. “One girl who runs with me introduces me as her grandfather, another calls me pops. I love it.”

Pat prides himself on his knack of bringing smiles to the faces of anxious patients. “99{543ea03a3bb8014408f5dde5a75a383e871d6d38ca7f937ec3aa0b8ea9b322be} of what we do is get them to feel like we care. That really calms them down.” He fondly remembers a 90-year-old blind woman with abdominal pains. “I had her feel my face to understand who I was. Then I told her I was going to dance with her to the ambulance. She had her arms around my neck, and we literally danced.”

“It helps to have mature people like Pat to teach the kids how to engage with the patients,” says President Tom. And, as Pat Boyd says, to keep enjoying the work. “It keeps you young.”

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