"What better way to give back but being a paramedic?"

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: Debra G. Miller

Age: 57

Agency: Onslow County Emergency Services

Years Served: 20 years

Rank/Title: Paramedic

What made you decide on the career path? My husband Charlie was active duty military and with our two daughters, it was time for a transfer making our new home Jacksonville. I worked at Onslow Memorial in the Emergency Department (ED) as a nursing assistant, and in order to work in the ED you needed to be a Basic EMT. So, I went to Coastal Carolina Community College and obtained my Basic EMT. Wow I was so excited. I volunteered with Haws Run Rescue  Squad and again I wanted more. I loved helping others. I then went to paramedic school at Coastal Carolina Community College and graduated with an associates degree in Emergency Medical Service in 1997. I couldn’t stop smiling, a long journey with hard work finally was here, but yet the beginning of a career that I earned and worked hard for. There was no turning back, I was well on my way to saving lives and making a difference in each patient, family members that I was going to come in contact with. My parents always told me believe in yourself and you can achieve any goal you want. My bosses, I thank for believing in me, teaching me to believe in myself. As I look back today and the day I graduated I realize no one can ever take the memories away from me that I have obtained in my career with more to come.

What is it you love about working in your community? I love our community. I have seen it grow from nothing but land and fields behind Walmart to stores after stores. Two lanes have turned into four lanes. I felt I had so much in common with the community: being a military wife living in a military town I could related to the families with their spouses deployed, and their children having one parent until the day of their husband or wife return. What better way to give back but being a paramedic? Not only do paramedics provide medical attention but we also educate.

Where else have you worked in the past? Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune as a paramedic in the emergency room and responding to calls on base. I still assist in teaching Coastal Carolina Community College and Onslow Memorial Hospital with CPR, PALS and ACLS. I love teaching and helping out where I am needed, especially with my peers at work.

Describe the road to your current position. The more you work the more you love what you do. It is very much life changing. The satisfaction of knowing you made a difference in someone else’s life whether it be great or small. Being a paramedic is continuous education, updates on protocols, new equipment. The medical field is always changing and improving skills, our division heads and commissioner, our EMS officers see that we continue to grow and perfect our work to save another human life.

What was the most memorable case you worked on? The most memorable case I have worked in the 20 years are too many to count. Delivery babies out in the field, code saves, heart attacks; but there is one goal getting the patient to the correct facility for a better outcome. The fire departments, Jacksonville Police Department, Onslow County Sheriff's Office and our volunteers work together safely and to achieve one goal of a good life-saving outcome. The memorable cases for me are:

A mother looks into your eyes and says, "Thank you for saving my daughter’s life," with tears rolling down her cheeks with gratitude.

Going to Walmart in the rush and someone stops you in the food aisle and says, "Ma'am you won’t remember me but you’re the paramedic that saved my mother’s life, she is with me in the next aisle shopping," and as you approach her mother you remember the call and she walks toward you with open arms for a hug of thanks.

What pushes you to stay on this career path and continue working in such a challenging position? What pushes me to stay in this profession is the people, the community, my husband, our church family, my EMS family. We have unity, I have seen people come and go in this area. I have had EMS calls that will make you laugh and make you cry. But having to tell someone why you love this job so much is deeper within your heart and soul, each call is different and unique. It's like the Forrest Gump motto, “It's like a box of chocolate, you don’t know what your getting until you open the box.” My heart overflows with happiness and self satisfaction that I did my best, and at that moment my best was good enough. I am known at my job as "Momma D” or "Debra Miller Paramedic." Probably cause I have been at my job for many years I have shared my knowledge with others and will continue to do so. I love being a paramedic as much now as I did when I graduated. The excitement, the self fulfillment and knowing that "Debra Miller Paramedic" made a difference.

Any additional comments you'd like to include?

My motto I live by is truly shared: faith in today, hope for tomorrow, live your life to the fullest. And that I am doing.

Want to nominate someone for FRF? Contact Kelsey Stiglitz at kstiglitz@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.