Volunteer Emergency Medical Technician
Kathy Nelson had wanted to be a nurse since she was very young—but a strong, happy marriage that started the summer after high school, which included raising 11 well-loved children, meant tucking that dream away. Still, her caring heart and her impulse to help and heal remained.
“I have a strong desire to help people and to make them more comfortable— to help them know they’re loved and not alone,” Kathy says.
In 1985, shortly after her last child was born, the local newspaper published a notice encouraging local residents to train for the role of volunteer EMT. It was a notice that would have a profound impact on Kathy’s life.
Kathy made a deal with a friend—they would both start EMT training and help each other by sharing babysitting duties. Initially, the training presented a tough challenge for Kathy—but she persevered and, ultimately, excelled—gaining confidence as she moved from basic through advanced training. Eventually, she progressed to teaching CPR and EMS classes herself.
Now, after 36 years on the job, Kathy’s seen a lot. Each time she’s called, it’s still a new challenge—sometimes a simple bloody nose or someone who’s fallen down and needs help getting up. In other cases, it can be more serious—a complicated fracture or a stroke.
According to Kathy, “The most challenging rescues are the people who go out to Valley of Fire State Park without water and get lost—especially in the springtime or summer, when the weather is extremely hot. They just don’t realize what can happen.”
Kathy, once the little girl who wanted to be a nurse, is now a trained professional who helps save lives on a regular basis. “I love the people in this valley,” she says. And she proves it, armed with a beeper—on call 24-hours-a-day, five days per week.
Update from 2023:
Volunteering in the community and busier than ever. Kathy’s passion for helping people is her main motivation for continuing to work. With the growth in tourism and population of our area, the summertime calls to help Valley of Fire hikers and tourists haven’t slowed down. Kathy loves our small town for the safety and security it provides. She’s excited to welcome two new great grandchildren to her large family this year. She and her husband will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary soon, and hope to combine the event with a large family reunion. This late spring and early summer, they’ll travel to see six of their grandchildren graduate from high school.