10 Inspiring Stories of EMS Heroes Around the World

Honoring and recognizing the extraordinary efforts of EMS professionals globally.

Female paramedic looking off in the distance

Emergency medical services personnel are the heartbeat of our emergency response systems, the guardians who rush towards chaos when others instinctively step back. These valiant men and women in ambulances and emergency rooms across the globe, play a pivotal role in preserving life under the most challenging circumstances. The unwavering commitment to saving lives, often in the face of danger and uncertainty, deserves not just acknowledgment but celebration. In this article, we will share inspiring stories of EMS heroes from different corners of the world. These are narratives that echo beyond the sirens and flashing lights, offering a glimpse into the profound impact these individuals have on the lives they touch.

Join us as we delve into the remarkable tales of compassion, resilience, and heroism displayed by EMS personnel who stand as beacons of hope in the darkest moments. Through these stories, we aim to honor and recognize the extraordinary efforts of EMS professionals globally, shining a light on their selflessness and dedication in the pursuit of saving lives.

1. Local first responders hear inspirational story, by Zach Spicer

The Tribune, December 27, 2021

Eleven years ago, the quick thinking and compassion of first responders in Seymour, Indiana, became the linchpin in a life-altering event for the Renkin family. Will Renkin, a 6-year-old at the time, had a harrowing accident when he fell 15 feet from a yoga ball onto a concrete floor. The heroism of the ambulance, fire, and police personnel who arrived on the scene cannot be overstated. Not only did they tend to Will’s critical injuries with skill and efficiency, but one experienced crew member, Rick Allgood, made a pivotal decision to transport Will to the trauma center at Riley Hospital for Children, ultimately saving his life.

The bond forged that day between the first responders and the Renkin family endured over the years. Despite the initial misinformation about the incident, the responders maintained a connection with the family, often going beyond their call of duty. Rick Allgood, now a captain of EMS quality management, witnessed Will’s growth through pictures on social media and even enjoyed annual visits from the Renkin family to the fire station. The story serves as a testament to the profound impact and relationships that can form between first responders and the individuals they aid, extending far beyond the immediate crisis.

The resilience and dedication of the first responders, as well as the Renkin family’s gratitude, highlight the importance of their role in the community. Their actions not only saved a young boy’s life but also provided unwavering support to the family throughout the recovery process. This heartwarming narrative underscores the heroism and humanity exhibited by first responders, showcasing the profound and lasting impact they can have on the lives they touch.

2. Helping a four-year-old boy, by KovaCorp

KovaCorp, 2021 Kova Corporation

In Blount County, Tennessee, 4-year-old Quinn Cross faced a life-threatening situation when he began choking on a grape. Despite his mother’s attempt to use the Heimlich maneuver, Quinn’s jaw clenched shut due to a neurological response, exacerbating the situation. Quick-thinking EMT worker David Phillips intervened, tirelessly working to open Quinn’s mouth as they rushed to the hospital. After exhausting all possible procedures, Phillips successfully cleared the obstruction, allowing desperately needed oxygen to flow back into Quinn’s body. Remarkably, despite an estimated ten minutes without oxygen, Quinn’s recovery has been remarkable, with the only lingering effect being a slight lisp.

This heartwarming story exemplifies the crucial role of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel in preserving and restoring lives during critical moments. David Phillips’s swift and resourceful actions not only saved Quinn from a life-threatening situation but also ensured a positive outcome with minimal long-term effects. The impact of EMS personnel extends far beyond medical interventions, as they serve as everyday heroes, providing hope, comfort, and expert care in the face of emergencies.

3. Stories From the Streets: Saying Thank You, by EMS World

EMSWorld, 05/03/2017

The online publication, EMS World, recounts the story of a man who walked into United Hatzalah’s headquarters in Jerusalem, expressing curiosity about their emergency dispatch center. Moshe Levy, a volunteer EMT, explained the center’s operations and gave the man a brief tour. The man then recounted a recent incident where he witnessed his friend collapse in a taxi. He promptly called United Hatzalah’s dispatch, and within 30 seconds, two ambucycle EMTs arrived, successfully performing CPR and using a defibrillator to revive his friend. Overwhelmed with gratitude, the man visited the headquarters to personally thank the dispatcher and volunteers who played a crucial role in saving his friend’s life.

Levy interrupted the dispatchers’ work to introduce the grateful man to Ophir Yitzchak, who handled the call, and Yechiel Stern, who directed the volunteers to the scene. The man repeatedly expressed his profound gratitude, acknowledging their life-saving efforts. Following the encounter, Levy reflected on the unexpected visit, emphasizing the impact of such expressions of gratitude on emergency responders. He highlighted the inspiring nature of strangers acknowledging the lifesaving work and how it motivates responders to continually improve their services. The incident underscored the profound significance of the work done by United Hatzalah in saving lives and the deep impact it has on those they assist.

Hand holding a carbon monoxide detector

4. Nassau County Medic Speaks Out About Carbon Monoxide Scare At Dunkin’ Donuts, by CBS News.

CBS New York, June 2, 2014

After completing his night shift as an EMT in Carle Place, New York, Joseph Biundo entered a doughnut shop for his customary nightly coffee, a routine he had followed countless times. On this particular occasion, however, his recently acquired carbon monoxide detector, obtained following the tragic demise of a local business owner, suddenly sounded an alarm.

Biundo, initially skeptical, inquired with the doughnut shop employee about any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Receiving an assurance that the employee felt fine, Biundo considered the possibility of a malfunctioning device. Despite this, an inner prompting urged him to reevaluate. After resetting the detector, Biundo requested permission to inspect the area near the ovens. This time, the device confirmed the presence of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide throughout the entire shop.

Swiftly responding to the alarming revelation, Biundo evacuated the premises and promptly contacted a dispatcher. It would have been easy to dismiss the incident as a glitch in the equipment, but Biundo’s instincts played a crucial role in averting a potential tragedy, saving the life of the doughnut shop employee.

5. Off-Duty EMT Administers CPR, Saves Life, by Gwen Clarke

NBC, October 19, 2015

A stroke of luck played a pivotal role in saving the life of a 69-year-old woman who experienced cardiac arrest while driving near Deer Park Tavern in Newark, Delaware on a Wednesday. Fortuitously, off-duty EMT David Baquet had coincidentally chosen to have a late lunch at the restaurant during a break between classes.

The woman suffered cardiac arrest and lost consciousness while traveling down Main Street with her husband. When Deer Park Tavern staff inquired if any patrons were familiar with CPR, Baquet promptly responded. He assisted in getting the woman out of her car and immediately commenced CPR. Reflecting on the incident, Baquet remarked, “It all unfolded rapidly, and I only realized the extent of my astonishment when I stood up and observed the collective response at the scene,” as he shared with NBC10.

With Baquet’s intervention, the patient regained a pulse and was transported to the emergency room in a serious but stable condition. Abigail Haas, a spokesperson for New Castle County paramedics, emphasized the critical role of bystanders in the “Chain of Survival.” Recognizing a patient’s cardiac arrest marks the first link in this chain, and it is a pivotal step in ensuring the patient’s survival. Haas explained, “That first link of the chain is vitally important to the patient surviving a cardiac arrest, as they are the person that first recognizes the patient’s heart has stopped, first calls for help, and initiates chest compressions. Bystander CPR buys the patient time,” she conveyed to the Newark Post.

6. ‘Instincts kicked in’ as EMS recruits help deliver baby in ambulance, by ABC News

WCBV5 (ABC), March 18, 2015

Brian Bailey and Alexandra Gallucci, currently undergoing training as Boston EMS recruits, found themselves in a unique situation on a Tuesday. While awaiting their training supervisor outside Boston Police Headquarters, a man approached them urgently. He explained that his wife, experiencing contractions and labor pains, was in the back of their car. Responding promptly, Bailey and Gallucci notified dispatch and called Training Officer Felicia Mohammed, who swiftly joined them outside the police headquarters.

With Mohammed now on the scene, they discovered the mother in the back of the ambulance and decided to transport her to the hospital. Gallucci took the wheel, driving the ambulance while keeping a watchful eye on the expectant mother in the back. The urgency of the situation became apparent as the mother revealed that her contractions were occurring every 30 seconds. Amidst the journey, she gave birth, and they reached Brigham and Women’s Hospital just in time for the delivery in the ER bay.

Pregnant African-American woman sitting in a car

Reflecting on the intense experience, Bailey expressed the profound impact it had on him, stating, “That’s something that’s going to be with me for the rest of my life, the first assist in the delivery of a baby. The training just automatically kicks in. It happens, instinct kicks in and you just revert back to everything you were taught.” The unidentified mother and her newborn daughter were reported to be in good health.

7. Off-duty EMT springs to action at Millersville tournament, aides woman, by Meredith Jorgensen

WGAL8, February 8, 2016

An off-duty EMT, Kimberly Grim, with 16 years of experience, made a crucial and swift decision that likely saved a grandmother’s life. While attending her daughter’s volleyball tournament at Millersville University, Grim, usually a seasoned emergency medical technician, shifted from spectator to rescuer as she noticed a woman in distress. Watch the video for more.

8. Rapid Response: First-person account of a train derailment, by Todd Bowman

EMS1, June 28, 2022

In an unfortunate incident on June 27, 2022, an Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago derailed in Chariton County, Missouri, near Mendon, after colliding with a dump truck at an uncontrolled intersection. The impact resulted in four fatalities and numerous injuries among the approximately 255 passengers and crew on board. Amtrak swiftly activated its Incident Response Team and deployed emergency personnel to the scene to provide support to the affected individuals and their families.

The response involved nearly 20 local and state agencies, including fire departments, EMS agencies, and law enforcement. Emergency units were dispatched after reports of the crash came in around 12:43 p.m., and by 1:02 p.m., personnel had arrived at the scene, confirming that a dump truck had been struck at the rural gravel road crossing. EMS agencies from eight jurisdictions, along with air medical support, played a crucial role in transporting the injured from the incident site.

Due to the severity of the incident, a triage plan was implemented, with those able to walk being transported by school buses to Northwestern High School gymnasium. For more seriously injured individuals, multiple ambulances were utilized to transport victims to medical facilities, highlighting the challenges associated with accidents involving high-speed collisions with trains and the complexity of patient extrication.

9. W.Va. paramedic saved Marine’s life, 7 years later saves his daughter, by Anya Sostek

EMS1, from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 26, 2023

Molly Jones, a woman from Belpre, Ohio, facing kidney failure due to autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, shared her plight on Facebook in March. Responding to her post, Kristi Hadfield, a Facebook friend and paramedic, offered to be tested as a potential kidney donor. Their connection originated in 2016 when Hadfield saved Jones’ father, John Cunningham, during a cardiac arrest while working as a paramedic in Ritchie County, West Virginia. Jones and Hadfield had developed a friendship over Facebook, and when Jones saw Hadfield reaching out to her father, they connected, leading to a deepening bond.

Jones, 42, had lived a healthy life until January 2022, when her kidney function rapidly declined, necessitating dialysis. Hadfield, 56, offered to donate her kidney after discovering they shared the same blood type. Living kidney donors are preferred for transplantation, and Hadfield underwent rigorous testing for several months while Jones’s health deteriorated. The transplant took place on December 27, 2022, at UPMC, restoring Jones’s kidney function. The extraordinary story highlights the selfless act of an EMT who, having saved a life previously, went on to save the life of that patient’s daughter through kidney donation. Jones and Hadfield plan to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the transplant in December and introduce their forever-connected families.

10. ‘Wrong place, right time’: Va. EMS officers drive into graduation shooting scene, by Bill Carey

EMS1, June 15, 2023

On June 6, during what was supposed to be their attendance at a graduation ceremony, two Richmond EMS officers, Lieutenant Erin Koller and her fiancé Chief Mitch Paulette, found themselves unintentionally at the scene of a shooting outside a downtown theater. Seven people were shot, with two fatalities, just after the conclusion of a high school graduation ceremony. Initially thinking it was a fight due to the chaos, the officers realized the severity when they saw a police officer armed with a rifle. Described as being in the “wrong place at the right time,” Paulette identified himself as a medic and began assisting a firefighter in performing CPR on a victim. He later continued to aid other patients and support rehabilitation operations before reuniting with his family.

While Paulette was engaged in medical assistance, Lieutenant Koller took action by sheltering a grandmother and grandson in her vehicle, transporting them to a safe location where they could reunite with their family. Interim Richmond County Administrator Hope Mothershead commended Paulette’s actions, highlighting the impressive commitment, willingness, and skills demonstrated by him and other providers in Richmond County. Despite their original plans for a graduation celebration, the EMS officers showcased their dedication to public service by responding effectively to an unexpected and challenging situation.

Smiling EMS professional in an ambulance

The universal qualities of EMS heroes

In the stories shared, EMS heroes from diverse backgrounds showcased universal qualities of dedication, resilience, and compassion. These individuals demonstrated an unwavering commitment to saving lives. Whether facing natural disasters, accidents, or medical emergencies, EMS professionals consistently emerged as the steady hands providing comfort and care in moments of crisis.

The common thread in each narrative was the selflessness displayed by these heroes. They embraced challenges with courage, often going above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference. From navigating treacherous terrains to handling the intensity of urban emergencies, their commitment to the well-being of others remained unshaken. These EMS professionals embodied the essence of their profession, standing as pillars of support in times of distress.

As we reflect on these stories, let us collectively recognize and appreciate the selfless contributions of EMS professionals worldwide. Their tireless efforts, often performed in the background, deserve our gratitude and acknowledgment. We encourage you to share your own stories of encounters with EMS heroes or express gratitude for the dedicated individuals who serve as the backbone of emergency response. By doing so, we amplify the voices of these remarkable individuals and honor the invaluable role they play in safeguarding our communities.

Becoming an EMS Hero

Have you ever considered being the difference between life and death for someone in need? Becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) could be your chance to be that unsung hero. The process of enrolling in an EMT program is accessible, typically requiring a high school diploma or equivalent. Many institutions, like Unitek EMT Boot Camp, offer comprehensive training programs that equip individuals with the necessary skills to handle emergency medical situations. Explore tips for success as an EMT, which details what every EMT should know to be successful in the field of emergency medical services.

Embarking on a career as an EMT brings numerous benefits, extending beyond the satisfaction of saving lives. It’s a dynamic field that offers a sense of purpose, as EMTs play a crucial role in the community’s well-being. Additionally, the demand for qualified EMTs is consistently high, providing stable employment opportunities. The fast-paced nature of the job ensures that no two days are alike, making it an ideal choice for those seeking excitement and variety in their careers.

Unitek EMT Boot Camp stands out as a reputable institution, providing an intensive and efficient training program. If you’re considering joining the ranks of EMS heroes, check out our guide on how to become an EMT. It’s a comprehensive resource that covers the steps from enrollment to certification, offering valuable insights into this fulfilling and impactful career. Take the first step toward making a difference—explore the world of EMT training with Unitek.