“Be the calm”: VFD ambulance service is there on the worst days

Published 5:15 am Friday, March 31, 2023

Kristin Blackledge started working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with the Vicksburg Fire Department ambulance service a little over a year ago, and she enjoys what she does each day.

“When you get that call and you get all excited, your adrenaline starts rushing, and to me, that’s what gets me going. I enjoy that,” Blackledge said. “I love going out and being someone’s calm on their worst day, and that’s just something that I appreciate.”

Blackledge grew up in Eagle Lake before joining the U.S. Coast Guard, where she served for nearly 10 years. Blackledge is also currently in school through the department to become a certified paramedic, which includes higher-level training than EMT counterparts.

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“(Paramedics) can give drugs, you can start IVs, you can do intubations, more advanced things because you go to school longer, you get more training, more certification,” Blackledge said. “And then you can even go up from there to a critical care medic who can even do more things than that.”

Even without the additional paramedic training, learning never stops for the ambulance team. Last Wednesday, Blackledge said she attended a training session that focused on the proper delivery of babies while responding to a call. A mother giving birth in a hospital will likely have access to more ideal equipment and personnel than would be available during a call response, but in an emergency situation, EMTs must spring to action.

“Out here, we just have our trucks and our fire crews that go on these calls,” Blackledge said. “So it might be two people or it could be eight people with very limited resources.”

Blackledge said a career in emergency medical response is something she recommends, but added that it may not be for everyone. It’s a calling.

“I think it’s a calling that you have to have, and you may not know that calling until you get into it; because who wants to be woken up? Who wants to go see people on their worst day? Who wants to see the things and do the things that we do? If you’re not passionate, if you’re not compassionate, if you’re not those things, then you’re really not cut out to be here,” Blackledge said. “You have to be those things because somebody could be having a horrible day. You’re supposed to come in, be the calm, be that voice of reason, command a scene and be like, ‘Hey, you’re not all right, but we’re going to try to get you to be all right.’”