Mercy Springfield EMS kicks off EMS week with memorial service for fallen first responders

Published: May. 21, 2023 at 7:34 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - As EMS week begins the first step, says Mercy EMS Director Bob Patterson, is to acknowledge those who have sacrificed and paid the ultimate price.

“We’re here to serve, and we do it with pride,” said Patterson. “As we celebrate first responders and our EMTs, and paramedics and all those people who support us in the communities we serve, it seems like a very respectful way to start that week.”

Mercy added three names to its memorial, remembering EMS workers from the Ozarks who lost their lives over the past 33 years.

Camden County EMT Michelle Graviet and Emergency Dispatcher Cassie Lake, both lost battles to cancer along with Wright County EMT Justin Sanders.

He was killed when the vehicle he was in was hit by a truck. Kody Skaggs is accused of being drunk when he hit the vehicle Sanders was in and is scheduled for an arraignment in June.

“It means a lot to all of us to be able to honor Justin and our co-workers that we’ve lost, to see a place that we can permanently remember them and have that name inscribed forever, or they can be honored,” said Mansfield’s Fire Chief and co-worker of Justin Sanders, Byron Clark.

Sanders’ family and coworkers were there to pay their respects to a man they say was lost too soon.

“He was friendly to everybody,” said firefighter Cody Coffman. “You can always count on Justin to be there to help whatever we needed.”

Patterson says events like these are important in order to show people how much EMS workers sacrifice for their communities.

“Things like this, just show us how important our EMS professionals are and our EMS providers out on the street are and what they do for us,” said Patterson. “And so it’s a great opportunity to recognize that and kick off EMS Week.”

Clark says we need these moments of reflection and acknowledgment so we never forget the sacrifices people make.

“It’s very important to EMS professionals that are oftentimes forgotten in the community and in the service world to be remembered and honored and just to be acknowledged for the long hours and the hard work that they do provide for the community,” said Clark.

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