Heroes 2024

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Heroes 2024

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March 2024 | The Post-Searchlight • 5
Pg. 6 Josh Glover Pg. 10 Gena Kelley Pg. 22 Hunter Jones & Jeremiah Millender Pg. 24 Nikki Glass Pg. 14 Frank Kay Pg. 18 Kristen Drexler, Evan Smallwood & Carrie Wilson

Finding the truth

BPS Investigator Josh Glover deals with the difficult cases,

aided by fellow investigators, God and family

Law enforcement officers often have to find themselves performing multiple tasks beyond what they initially expected. Regardless of what is demanded of them, it usually takes a heavy mental toll on them. For Bainbridge Public Safety officers, they expect from the beginning to serve in multiple ways, most notably having to serve as both fire fighters and officers of the law. It was this duality that initially drew Investigator Josh Glover to work at BPS ten years ago.

“What made me want to join BPS specifically was I liked the idea of doing both police and fire,” Glover said. “I thought it was pretty cool that, if you get burnt out on the police side, you’ve got some fire stuff you can do. If you get burnt out on fire you’ve got the police side you can do.”

Glover has since recently joined the BPS Criminal Investigation Department (CID). As an investigator, he primarily handles felony

cases, be it those assigned him or helping other investigators with theirs.

“If you were to get called out and have to work a case, you’re just dealing with that specific case,” he explained. “You may be assisting other officers, depending on what kind of case they caught. There’s always paperwork and case files to do on cases.”

Depending on the case details, Glover said he could spend days simply watching surveillance footage, or perhaps going through a suspect’s social media; “A lot more crimes are committed on the phone… it can take a while to go through someone’s social media account.” That said, investigators collaborate with each other on larger cases if necessary.

Of course, the more serious cases CID find themselves dealing with are crimes such as homicides.

“One of my first call-outs was a double homicide on Sims

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Street in November of 2022,” Glover recalled. “That case, we just wrapped it up… one plead guilty and the other one went to trial.”

Glover has since worked six homicides, though that first double-homicide still stands out the most in his mind.

“There were the most shell casings I’ve ever seen,” he said. The incident started over juveniles fighting, and escalated to shooting when adults got involved, with a bystander being struck.

The nature of investigating cases, that of accused vs accuser, victim vs perpetrator, is also a trying aspect of the job.

“On a case, you’re dealing with a victim who’s gone through something traumatic,” Glover explained, “and then a suspect whose family, if you end up making the case and locking somebody up, they dislike you. So it’s always hurt and pain, and somebody hating you.”

Dealing with all this unsurprisingly takes a toll. Finding a way to deal with it, and to balance work and home life, is a challenge all face. Humor among comrades is one way officers seek to deal with it: “We’ll joke, a lot of people find that weird. Like, ‘Man y’all

are joking about something’… You’ve got to do something.”

For Glover, his family and his faith are pillars for him.

“When you’re going through the academy, they kind of teach you, ‘As soon as you hit the gates to leave, leave your work here, that way you don’t take it home to your family,’” he said. “That’s kind of hard. It’s not just us it takes a toll on, it’s definitely your families. I go home and just hang with my family, go to church. I never found alcohol or anything, I’m not a drinker… I don’t know what I’d do, how I’d be, without God and my family.”

“For people with families, I don’t think you could do this job without a good structured home,” he continued. “Because it’s not like a normal eight-to-five job. You do this job, some of you is getting lost in what you deal with.”

Despite the trying nature of the job, Glover has no intention to quit, and hopes to advance further in BPS. Wherever his career in BPS goes, Glover reiterated that he has no desire to stop serving Bainbridge. “I was born and raised in Bainbridge, I love the city. This is where I want to be.”

“ I don’t know what I’d do, how I’d be, without God and my family.
8 • Heroes

Changing lives with love

2nd grade West Bainbridge Elementary School teacher Gena Kelley starts every school year with the same priority: loving her students

Names of students have not been included in this story per request of Gena Kelley

Gena Kelley is a second grade teacher at West Bainbridge Elementary School. Though “teacher” is her job title, she takes it to another level.

“She is more than just a teacher to her students,” said Emily Avery, a second-grade colleague of Kelley at West Bainbridge Elementary. She’s more like their second mom.”

Kelley said she loves teaching all children and has a passion for those who “may struggle academically or behaviorally.” These are students who may be below their grade level in an area of academics, behind in social or emotional skills or come from less fortunate circumstances. Every year she personally requests to have these children in her classroom, and every year she changes their lives.

She began her teaching career in 2012 as a kindergarten teacher, eventually moving to third grade and then second grade. In her second school year, she had a few students in her class who struggled. She taught them, loved on them and got to watch them grow as the year progressed. She said that class made her fall in love with working with students who may struggle.

Kelley started requesting these children in her class after that year, and every year she gets a class with a handful of children who need her help. She said teaching these children can be more difficult at times, but she wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I’m very stubborn when it comes to them, I don’t want these children going to anybody else,” Kelley said. “It’s harder for me, it’s very stressful… There’s a lot of days that I go home, and I cry. Or I’ll go home mad as a hornet, and my husband says, ‘Why do you keep doing this to yourself?’ Because that’s where my heart is… showing them love and affection because a lot of them don’t get it [outside of the classroom].”

Kelley goes “above and beyond” for her students, according to Avery. She will anonymously buy shoes, clothes and other items for children who come from families that can’t afford them.

“A lot of times as educators we see students come from backgrounds that are not very good as far as maybe, their home life,” Avery said. “If she sees a need that she can fill, like, it’s nothing for her to purchase clothing for children or purchase school supplies and things like that that they may need to come to

school with. She really takes care of them in that way.”

“I’m very blessed to have a supportive husband that allows me to do that,” Kelley said

She also tailors lesson plans and teaching strategies to meet the behavioral needs of some students. She’s attended events outside of school to support her students, and the biggest thing, Kelley said, is that she loves them.

Every day, Kelley gives her students hugs as they come in in the morning and leave in the afternoon. She said some students can be apprehensive to the affectionate ritual, but with time and consistency, she gets to watch them warm up to receiving love.

“I had a child, two years ago, and when I hugged him it was like a stiff block of ice,” Kelley said. “He was Ice cold, and he did not want you hugging him, and I realized right off the bat, you’ve got to back up and let him learn you before you love on him like that. It was less than a month later, he came up to me and said, ‘Mrs. Kelley?’ I said, ‘What buddy?’ he said, ‘Can I give you a hug?’ The first time he did that I just bust out into tears… then it was like two hours later he came back and he said, ‘Mrs. Kelley?’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Can I give you another hug?’ It was like that for a week, just constant hugs. But after that, there was not a day that he walked in this room or a day that he left this room that he was going to find me before he left to give me a hug.”

Amy Bennett had a daughter in Kelley’s second-grade class in 2021. The 2021 school year was her daughter’s first year back to school after the COVID-19 pandemic, and Bennett was worried she’d have a difficult time readjusting to the school environment.

“After COVID, my child was- she didn’t get to have the social interaction and she was kind of- it was hard for her,” Bennett said. “My child walked in at the beginning of the year and she was, she was just this little clam. She couldn’t move out of her shell and she didn’t have confidence in reading and that went into math when they started word problems.”

Kelley worked with Bennett’s daughter to build her confidence and show her she was able to overcome any challenge she faced.

“[Kelley] changed my baby’s life,” Bennett said as she started to become overwhelmed with emotion. “When she left that year, she excelled. And when I tell you, like, it wasn’t just [Kelley] teaching

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“ Knowing that I had someone that I know for a fact would die for my child, like, she will go and fight for my kid, that was invaluable to me.

her, it was [Kelley] loving my child and showing her that she could do anything… Now, she always says, ‘Mrs. Kelley said that I can do anything,’ and I say, ‘Yes you can do anything.’”

Bennett’s child is out of Kelley’s class, but that doesn’t stop Kelley’s love and support of her. She starred in a play in March 2024, and Kelley showed up to cheer her on. After the performance, Kelley found her on stage to surprise her.

“When I was walking through the crowd, I could see her looking around saying, ‘Where’s Mrs. Kelley, where’s Mrs. Kelley,” Kelley said.

“When my daughter saw her, she just broke down in tears,” Bennett said. “She ran and hugged [Kelley] before she hugged us… She is the true definition of love.”

Rebecca Kearns had a son in Kelley’s third-grade class. Her son was a bright student but had trouble behaviorally. He was diagnosed with ADHD shortly before the school year, and was behind socially as a result of being homeschooled since kindergarten.

“The transition, we knew it was going to be a little different,” Kearns said. “Gena was just integral in being patient with him, teaching him a little more how school works. She was also the first to notice his giftedness and she encouraged his uniqueness.”

Kelley said she knew Kearns’s son was special early on.

“That boy is a stinkin’ genius,” Kelley said. “I knew it the first week.”

Kelley encouraged his academic ability and got him involved with the state technology fair. He’s participated every year since and has made it to the state level competition twice.

Kearns said her son might not be where he is today if it wasn’t for Kelley and her ability to teach him in the way he needed to be


“Out of all the teachers he’s had, [Kelley] was one of the most patient teachers in knowing how to deal with him,” Kearns said. “She just knows how to deal with children who are unique and may need a little extra attention. She can speak their language somehow, I don’t know how.”

The biggest help for Kearns was the peace of mind Kelley gave her. Coming from a homeschool environment, Kearns knew her son would struggle to acclimate to a classroom environment. She said that she didn’t have to worry about that process, because she knew Kelley would love him and give him the care and attention he needed.

“It alleviated so much stress for me,” Kearns said. “Knowing that I had someone that I know for a fact would die for my child, like, she will go and fight for my kid, that was invaluable to me.”

Kelley is a Christian and said her relationship with God is the reason she’s able to do what she does.

“I just do what the good Lord blesses me with and that’s just the ability to love them, most importantly, to respect them and try to teach them everything I can teach them,” Kelley said.

She said she uses Christ’s love for her as an example of how she loves her students.

“I do push [my students] even though they may have the challenges that they do,” Kelley said. “I do not let that challenge be a crutch. I let that be motivation or an incentive to push them just a little bit harder to show them what they can do. And I think about all the times that the Lord has forgiven me and how, you know, unhappy he’s been with me and I stop and I think, ‘you think about how many times you’ve been forgiven. You’ve got to let up, and you’ve got to show some more love for these children.”

12 • Heroes
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Giving back to the community

A tragic fire inspired Frank Kay to volunteer over 30 years as a firefighter

Working in defense of the public, be it against fire or crime, is not a job everyone is cut out for. Doing the job for free, and for decades at that, is something even fewer are inclined to do. Thankfully, there are still some who are willing to risk their lives with little to no reward in our community.

Frank Kay is one such individual. Captain of the Blackjack Volunteer Fire Department, Kay has been with the VFD for over 30 years. He first volunteered following a tragic fire in the

community, which pushed him to give back to the community.

“I lived over here on Pine Ridge Drive,” he said, “… and we had a house fire about five or six houses down from me where I lived at the time, and a lady had burnt up in the house. It just got to hitting me pretty hard that, as close as I was, if I was a volunteer fireman, could I have been there and done anything different?”

As a volunteer fireman, Kay and the BVFD are essentially oncall 24/7, responding to everything typical firefighters do, from

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“ In Decatur County we do not get any pay whatsoever, for anything, as a volunteer. It’s basically just the fact that you know you helped the community.

structure fires, to brush fires and wrecks, as well as medical calls.

“We do some medical calls, if EMS or somebody needs help lifting somebody, or if they’re all tied up and there’s somebody in our area, they’ll call some of the volunteers to go in.”

Kay reiterated the danger faced by fire crews on any call they may go out on, “doesn’t matter how minor or how important it is, how big of a fire or how bad of a wreck.” Some of the danger, he said, may even come from passing traffic in some cases.

“Just driving down the road, especially when you’ve got emergency lights running on a fire truck, a lot of folks don’t heed those lights and siren a lot,” he said. “They’re either listening to music or texting on their phone… just getting to the calls is danger enough.”

But the unexpected is just a part of job, he says. “You know, when the callers call in, they’re kinda oblivious of what all’s going on, all they know is they’ve got smoke coming out of the house… by the time it gets from them, to the 9-1-1 operators to us, sometimes some of that information gets lost. So you never really know what you’re gonna see when you pull up on a call.”

Having started at the Blackjack station, Kay has recently been put over the station at 97 South, after the captain had to step down. He explained that, on any structure fire call, not only does Decatur County Fire and Rescue get the call, but three other volunteer stations do too: the station in the same district as the fire, and the two closest district VFDs.

Having two VFDs under his watch has naturally increased Kay’s time out on call, at least a little bit. It has also added the responsibility of maintenance and upkeep of the volunteer stations and fire trucks.

“That’s what we’re working on now out there, trying to get different things picked up on the truck,” he said, “keep it clean, make sure the battery’s charged, make sure there’s air in the truck.” He explained that the Blackjack station has quick-connect air hoses and electrical connectors the 97 South station lacks.

“That way the air pressure’s always built up, the battery

charger’s always charging the batteries, and when you turn the key they both pop off so you can take off,” he explained. “Out there we don’t have any of that. When you crank an air brake truck up that’s been sitting for a week, the air is zero. It’s gonna take three or four minutes but it feels like 20 minutes, when you know that somebody’s house is burning down.”

Of course, as a volunteer, Kay spends most of his day at his job, that being co-owner of Quality Sign Company.

“There’s always gonna be time as a volunteer that you can’t respond to everything,” he said. “You’ve got family time, you’ve gotta work, whatever the outcome is.”

Despite being a business owner, managing his time at the office is not what Kay struggles with, but rather his family commitments: “I’m raising grandkids, I’ve got two twins that just went to college and I’ve still got a 14-year-old at the house, and a wife. So sometimes we’re sitting there eating at a restaurant in the middle of the afternoon, or at 6:00, 7:00 at night, in the middle of eating supper, if that alarm goes off, they know, we gotta get a to-go plate and let’s go.”

Of course, as volunteers, neither Kay nor the rest of his crews are paid for their work. “In Decatur County we do not get any pay whatsoever, for anything, as a volunteer,” he said. “It’s basically just the fact that you know you helped the community. But without the volunteer stations… it would be tough, because you’ve got one paid station at Central, and you’ve got one truck in West Bainbridge that’s a county truck, and that’s it, as far as paid firemen… all the help comes from volunteers.”

Kay encouraged anyone looking to become a volunteer to reach out to Decatur County Fire and Rescue. “We definitely need a lot more than we have now,” he said. A volunteer firefighter position may not be for everyone, but it is certainly for those who wish to serve and protect their community, those being in high demand.

16 • Heroes
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In the nick of time

When a patient walked in to the Memorial Hospital Emergency Room with hours left to live, Evan Smallwood, Carrie Wilson, and Kristen Drexler took swift action to save her life


Patient names and certain medical details have not been included in this story in compliance with Memorial Hospital and Memorial’s HIPPA information release guidelines

On a January morning, A patient walked into the Emergency Room at Memorial Hospital and Manor with an emerging, radiating pain in her chest. The patient wasn’t completely aware of the severity of the situation, but nurse Carrie Wilson, paramedic Kristen Drexler and Dr. Evan Smallwood soon discovered that she had just hours to receive lifesaving surgery.

“I was worried about what I was going to face,” The patient said. “But they reacted fast… [Dr. Smallwood] saved a lot of time.”

The ER trio banded together, acted fast and fought through multiple setbacks to get the patient the care she needed. After two hours of phone calls, a fight against the weather and a 200-mile ambulance ride, the patient was saved in the nick of time.

“With that diagnosis,” Dr. Smallwood said. “Time is the most critical factor in what determines the outcome of if they live.”

The patient checked in to the Emergency Room in mid-morning with pain in her upper chest. She said she has a family history with a certain diagnosis that displays those symptoms, and her sister explained that to Wilson and Drexler when they got into the unit.

“My family has a genetic thing with [the diagnosis],” The patient said. “So I kind of knew what it was.”

Wilson used the information they gave her to look for the supposed diagnosis. She did two specific checks of the patient’s vitals and saw a discrepancy between the two. That discrepancy is a sign of the diagnosis. If the diagnosis was confirmed, it would mean she had just hours to receive surgery before the condition would become fatal.

“Internally, you worry, but-” Wilson started, “you just do the best you can with what you’ve got.” Drexler finished Wilson immediately paged Dr. Smallwood to come to the room to address the potentially urgent situation. Smallwood rushed to their room to assess the situation.

“A lot of it was Carrie just realizing the severity of it,” Dr. Smallwood said.

The patient, her sister, and the nurses caught him up, and he pushed her through to a CT scan to get an image of the potential

diagnosis and confirm it.

For the scan, the patient was administered a Contrast. Contrast is a dye that helps highlight the areas of your body being examined, according to the Mayo Clinic. The dye can be harmful and typically requires patients to undergo bloodwork and lab analysis to ensure the safety of the procedure.

“The Contrast can be really hard on the kidneys,” Smallwood said. “But if it’s life-threatening, or an emergency, you don’t worry about the kidneys. We’ve just got to figure out if this is what’s going on.”

Dr. Smallwood bypassed these steps. He knew if the diagnosis was what they thought it was, there wouldn’t be enough time to wait for those results.

“A lot of people would have been like, ‘Well, I’m the doctor I’ll find out what’s wrong with you,’ and they don’t want to listen to you,” the patient said. “But Dr. Smallwood did. He really did. He listened. He immediately ordered a scan instead of getting over there and saying, ‘Well, let’s see your blood work, let’s see-’ no bloodwork, no nothing… He went straight to what I told him was probably the problem.”

A radiologist conducted the scan and the results came back positive. The patient had the life-threatening diagnosis, and a depleting amount of time to get it fixed.

“My sister was down there,” The patient said. “When the X-Ray tech was looking at [the scan], she saw on his face, immediately, that it was bad.”

This all happened in the span of about 30 minutes, according to Smallwood. Once the team got the confirmation, their next challenge was to find the patient care. Memorial Hospital and Manor were not able to perform the procedure she needed, so they frantically started contacting hospitals in the area to get the patient in for her life-saving surgery.

Drexler made the calls, and started reaching out to medical centers across North Florida and South Georgia. She called “anywhere that accepted the diagnosis,” but was unsuccessful with places close by.

“Everywhere that was local declined,” Drexler said. “I said,

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“ They had blood sitting there next to them in a box. One of ‘em said, ‘You know, that’s only one unit of blood. That ain’t gonna do nothing for us if it ruptures...’ They figured anytime it would rupture, and it would have been the end if it did.

‘OK, let me go down the list.’”

Drexler proceeded to make calls to hospitals all over Georgia. She tried Macon, Agusta, Atlanta, etc., until she got the patient accepted at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

After finding a hospital to accept the patient, Drexler had to find transportation for her. She got back on the phone and called multiple transportation services. She eventually succeeded in contacting a Life Flight pilot and ordered an air transport to Emory for the patient. Life Flight is an air ambulance service that provides through-the-air hospital transportation.

“All these different factors were going against us,” said Amy Anderson, Memorial Hospital’s ER Manager. “All these places were saying, ‘No no no no no.’ We finally get somebody to say yes, and we’re like, ‘Ok, we got to get transport,’ and they’re like, ‘no no no no no.’”

It took two hours of urgent calling from when Drexler started reaching out to local hospitals, but she finally got a hospital and transportation figured out.

There was only one problem: weather in Atlanta wasn’t safe for a flight to land, and the Life Flight pilot was unable to take off after arriving in Bainbridge.

“[Life Flight] got here,” Anderson said. “But they couldn’t leave.”

The ER crew’s only option left was to send the patient to Emory in an ambulance. They coordinated with EMS to get a ride to Atlanta, and the Life Flight crew agreed to ride in the vehicle with the patient to monitor her situation on the ride.

So, they loaded the patient into the ambulance for the fastest ride possible from Bainbridge to Atlanta.

“They got me up there in two and a half hours,” the patient said. “They were flying… Sirens all the way.”

The patient said everyone’s urgency came from a worry that she wasn’t going to make it.

“They had blood sitting there next to them in a box,” the patient said about the ambulance ride. “One of ‘em said, ‘You know, that’s only one unit of blood. That ain’t gonna do nothing for us if it ruptures.’ So that’s why they wanted to get me up there so fast. And that’s why Dr. Smallwood wanted to get me up there real fast. They figured anytime it would rupture, and it would have been the end if it did.”

After a tense, uncomfortable ambulance ride, according to the patient, she checked into Emory Hospital and was processed and on the operating table as soon as she could be. The team at Emory was able to conduct the surgery right before she would have experienced a fatal rupture.

The patient said she was impressed with her experience at the Atlanta hospital and is glad Drexler found Emory for her procedure.

“I ended up in the best spot, I truly believe that,” the patient said. “I don’t know if I would have made it anywhere else.”

The patient is in recovery now and is back to living a semiregular life. She’s not supposed to overexert herself, and gets winded easily, but she can do almost all the basic things to go about her days.

Looking back on the day, the patient said the most meaningful part was Wilson, Drexler, and Smallwood’s accommodating her. They allowed family and friends to visit her in the midst of the tense situation. She said she got to see everyone she would have wanted to if things had gone differently that day.

“I’m not saying that even if I died, it would have made any difference,” the patient said. “But it would to me, to be able to have seen somebody and hug them and stuff before you left out.”

20 • Heroes
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Brought back to life

When Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputies Hunter Jones and Jeremiah Millender were called to an overdose, they sprung to action to save a life

Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremiah Millender was on his normal night shift patrol when he was dispatched to a call of an unresponsive woman. He was three minutes from the location of the call and rushed over to the scene.

Another Deputy, Hunter Jones, arrived shortly after followed by EMS and their Sergeant, Edwin Harvey. Millender and Jones sprung to action to save the woman they presumed dead.

After continuous CPR, three shots of Narcan and a dwindling sense of hope, the woman woke up.

“I figured that it was going to probably be fatal after three doses of Narcan and probably like a hundred-and-something [CPR] compressions and she hasn’t responded at all,” Millender said. “If you asked me five seconds before she got up if I thought she was going to make it, I would have said, ‘No.’”

Millender was the first to the scene. He made his way into the home and walked into a woman unconscious in her bed, surrounded by a worried husband and children. The woman did not have a pulse, and the deputy said all signs were pointing to an opioid overdose

He administered a shot of Narcan to the woman in an attempt to bring her back. Narcan is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It had no immediate effect, so he moved her from the bed to the floor to begin performing life-saving CPR.

“I thought she was dead before I pulled her off the bed,” Millender said. “That was the first time I’d been to an overdose where we had no pulse for a good portion… You get to a certain point, and your brain doesn’t have oxygen like that, you’re going to end up not coming back.”

Millender performed 60 compressions of CPR, then Deputy Jones arrived on the scene.

When I first walked in,” Jones said, “I noticed the father and [the children], So it raised the situation much higher. Because not only are you trying to save this lady for herself, you’re trying to save her for her family.”

Jones took over for Millender on CPR duties. Sergeant Harvey and EMS arrived shortly after, and an EMT instructed Millender to administer a second shot of Narcan. The second dose gave the

woman a faint pulse, but she was still entirely unresponsive.

Jones continued to administer CPR with a newfound encouragement after the faint pulse was detected. After three sets of compressions, the woman was not making any more progress towards beating the overdose.

“That’s when I ran back to my patrol car and went ahead and grabbed my Narcan,” Harvey said.

This was the third dose and was a last-ditch effort to save the woman. Millender said one shot is normally enough to fully combat an overdose.

When Harvey got back to the room, he handed the medication to Jones who administered the final shot.

“They were probably on their last set of compressions before they were going to stop,” Millender said. “I turned around, and she just sat up.”

The woman came out of the overdose in a haze, but she had a pulse and was breathing.

“She took a DEEP breath and she just rolls up and her eyes come open,” Jones said. “It’s kind of like she really came back from the dead.”

Harvey said three doses of Narcan is an anomaly, and the third dose wouldn’t have been administered if the second didn’t make its slight impact.

“I’ve been to two previous overdoses, and when I gave the first Narcan, they popped right up,” Harvey said. “After the second [dose]... that small pulse was the deciding factor. Once we had that little faint pulse, I went ahead and grabbed my third one and gave it to Jones.”

Jones and Millender both cited the incident as one of the more intense calls they’ve responded to as a Sheriff’s deputy. Jones described it as “an eye-opener,” and Millender said the pressure of her children being there added to the moment. Harvey said his deputies responded well and handled the situation in the best way possible.

“They went in there and knew what they had to do,” Harvey said. “Especially when somebody’s not breathing, you can start to panic a little bit, and I didn’t see really any panic. I’m proud of them… they did a really good job of [keeping their composure].”

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24 • Heroes

A love of service What began as looking for a career change became a passionate commitment for Nikki Glass

Acareer in medicine or healthcare is not something to take lightly. Aside from the necessary schooling, it also takes a heart that is both willing to help and serve others, and also strong enough to withstand the tragic losses that inevitably come with the field.

Nikki Glass has fully committed herself to the field. Having previously worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for 15 years, she has since moved to working with Gold Star EMS, having recently been promoted to the position of supervisor.

“I think after about 15 years of doing CNA work, I just needed something new,” she said.

Of course, Gold Star EMS was not the only option, and when faced with the decision of joining Grady-Decatur County EMS or

Gold Star, Glass explained that it was her personal experiences that led her to Gold Star; specifically, it was her passion for dialysis patients.

“I got to taking care of my husband’s grandmother, who had kidney dialysis treatments, and it’s just something I fell in love with,” she said. “They would come get her from the house whenever we’d have an emergency or something, and I just kind of fell in love with it from there. And then when the decision came to, was I gonna work 9-1-1 or was I gonna work something like this, this was a no-brainer for me.”

Dialysis patients make up a large portion of Gold Star EMS, to the point it keeps them fairly busy. “There’s a lot of people that need it,” Glass said. “About 90% of our people in our group is just

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While Glass and her crew don’t find themselves out on call with 9-1-1 and public safety offices, they do keep a busy schedule, in part because they have such a set schedule.

“We’re probably a little bit more busy than them because we have more of a schedule than they do.” She elaborated, saying, “They might get five or ten calls, when our trucks are holding sometimes eight or nine calls a piece, and we run out four trucks.”

While working with dialysis patients is what initially drew Glass to Gold Star, serving as supervisor has added much more responsibility to her schedule.

“Being supervisor is scheduling of all the patients that come in,” she explained, “I schedule all the employee’s times, I keep

them going, I schedule their daily runs.”

That said, Glass still finds time to go out on calls; working with her patients is what makes the job worth it. “It’s either or to me,” she said, when asked if she preferred supervising or calls. “I love both, because I also love my patient contact, because I love my patients.”

As Gold Star regularly serves the same patients, it makes dealing with losses one of the harder parts of the job. It’s not a job for just anyone, Glass said.

“I think the hardest part of this job is getting used to, and loving your patients,” she stated, “and then when that patient goes, you’ve done created a bond with not just the patient but the family, and with losing them, it’s like losing your family.” Glass encouraged anyone considering working with emergency medical services

to “pray about it, but follow your dreams.”

Despite being drawn in by her personal experiences, Glass didn’t intend to stay with Gold Star EMS initially, it was just going to be stop along the way.

“When I first started here, I never intended to stay,” she said. “It was supposed to be for about a year, and then I’d go to the big 9-1-1 gig… I just love this.”

What began as just looking for a change became a long-term career commitment: “I have no intentions of going back to school, I’m really happy where I am… I’ve created a family, the guys here are amazing.”

“I just love this... I’ve created a family, the guys here are amazing.”
26 • Heroes
March 2024 | The Post-Searchlight • 27 S i g n U P T O D A Y B Y E M A I L I N G N E W S @ T H E P O S T S E A R C H L I G H T . C O M O R C A L L 2 2 9 - 2 4 6 - 2 8 2 7
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