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Compassion drives Williamsport emergency worker

April 10, 2002|BY ANDREA ROWLAND

andreabh@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Some of Erin Carpenter's earliest memories are of her father heeding the call of the siren in the middle of the night.

She remembers the excitement she felt when firefighter Charles Flaherty rushed out of the house to help people in need, she said.

Now, Carpenter does the same thing as an emergency medical technician for the Williamsport Volunteer Ambulance Service.

For her dedication to the company, Carpenter was honored as the ambulance service's volunteer of the month for March.

"I like knowing that I'm helping someone in their time of need," said Carpenter, 26, of Clear Spring.

She has always wanted to work in the medical profession, she said. Carpenter, who holds an associate's degree as a medical secretary, works full-time as a certified nursing assistant in the progressive care unit at Washington County Hospital.

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She cares for "critical care" patients who are recovering from serious illnesses or injuries, she said.

Carpenter, who considers compassion her greatest strength as a caregiver, has been volunteering at the ambulance service since 1999. As an EMT-B, she provides basic medical help to patients, she said.

It isn't an easy job - especially when patients don't survive, Carpenter said.

She recalled a recent call during which she spoke to and offered comfort to a patient who died soon after reaching the emergency room. It was tough for Carpenter, who said she deals with such losses with the support of her co-workers and by "crying if I have to."

Accepting that pain and death is a part of life is a challenge that goes with the territory, Carpenter said.

"You have to take the good with the bad," she said. "Even though the patient is in distress, you touch a part of them."

Carpenter plans to pursue her dream of becoming a registered nurse, she said. And she hopes to continue working with trauma patients.

"It's just a drive with me," she said. "I guess it's something I'm meant to be doing."

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