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Paramedic retires after 38 years

Jun. 22, 2013 @ 10:59 PM

HUNTINGTON -- When this story lands on doorsteps across the Tri-State, Karen Cremeans will be completing her final shift as a paramedic for Cabell County Emergency Medical Services.

Family, friends and colleagues honored Cremeans' 38 years of service to the agency at a ceremony Saturday afternoon at the newly minted Cabell County EMS station in Barboursville.

Cremeans, 60, of Milton, described walking away as bittersweet. She first developed a passion for ambulance service in junior high.

"My heart and my mind say 'no,' but my body after all of these years with injuries and everything says, 'yes,'" she said.

Cremeans joined the agency June 15, 1975, when it was known as the Sheriff's Technical Office Patrol, or STOP Ambulance for short. The group had formed just a year earlier with 24 people.

Cremeans was hired to fill its first vacancy, said Gordon Merry, her present-day director and colleague for all of those years. He praised her perseverance as he noted larger patients and the repetitive demand of going up and down stairs as examples of the job's tremendous physical toll.

EMS Supervisor John Ransbottom mentioned Cremeans' compassion, all while using the words "pillar" and "mentor" to describe her service to the agency.

"She's always had the mother role," he said. "It's easy with the medical training to get trained to recognize chest pain and stuff like that, but to be able to pat a hand or give a hug when it's needed or say a kind word -- Karen had that aspect."

Cremeans' shift was scheduled to end at 7 a.m. Sunday, June 23. She walks away with some plans to travel, but an even greater desire for rest and relaxation.

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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