Shootings, Births and Stress: Inside the Life of an EMS Pro


Fire and police may get the glory, but EMS professionals are truly unsung heroes of our emergency services. They take calls that put them in danger and treat medical emergencies in the field, saving lives.

The radio crackles and sirens wail as we speed down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, dodging confused motorists and slowing through red lights. Few cars pull over. If there’s one lesson I learned in my ride-along with Chatham Emergency Services, it’s this: always, ALWAYS pull over when you hear a siren. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for EMS personnel in the line of duty.

“It’s terribly stressful, I’m sorry,” District Chief Mary Meeks apologizes as she deftly navigates around cars blocking our path. “People just don’t know what to do. To be fair, the law is to pull off to the right, but if I’m in the right lane trying to get around other cars, there’s nowhere to go.”

We are on our way to a call for a diabetic in distress. When we arrive, Meeks springs into action pulling gear from the back of her supervisor SUV and administering lifesaving help to a man collapsed in the doorway of a local church.

The call is pretty routine. That said, there are no typical calls for EMS professionals. “Things can get weird really fast, and it happens on calls you don’t imagine would be scary,” Meeks says. One night, she took a non-emergency call for foot pain in an affluent neighborhood on the west side of Chatham County. “My partner and I roll up at three a.m. and knock on the door. The guy pulls out a gun.” The caller gave them the wrong address.

“My partner and I roll up at three a.m. and knock on the door. The guy pulls out a gun."

They left unharmed, but dangerous situations present themselves more than one would think for people in the business of saving lives. “We’ve had our people assaulted. I’ve been assaulted – bit, hit, kicked, spit on. Family members get hostile. Thankfully, all of it has been minor. There have only been a small handful of times where I felt unsafe,” Meeks says. “People don’t shoot at us. We just happen to be there when they decide to start shooting.”

Danger is always a reality, but Meeks’ favorite type of call endears. “I love delivering babies,” she confesses. The first she delivered was born with the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. “He came out blue and not crying. I’m trying to stimulate him and get him to wake up. Thankfully, he did. He started crying, and I cried. Oh my gosh, I cried. I cry every time I deliver babies. It’s so lame.”

She jokes, but delivering babies, saving lives, and facing danger are no laughing matters. Despite everything that EMS professionals do, they are the unfortunate redheaded stepchild of the first-responder world. The new kids on the block, relatively speaking. According to the Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association, the first public ambulance hit the streets in Cincinnati in 1865. Still, it wasn’t until the 1960s and the dramatic increase in traffic accidents that accompanied that era, that the profession took off. The town doctor became the city hospital, which necessitated a way to get from here to there. Thus, EMS was born.

Fire brigades and peace officers are longer-established, far more recognizable, and their roles well defined – protect life and property, put out fires, stop crime from happening. “There’s so much more diversity in what we do,” Meeks says. “The public has this idea that we just pick them up and take them to the hospital. I make decisions for people by myself that can radically alter the course of their lives.”

Making those split-second decisions, EMTs and paramedics may not get the glory, but they are heroes to the people whose lives are in their hands.

When you need to call
Non-emergency calls are one of the biggest causes of burnout for EMTs and paramedics. People don’t regularly face emergency situations, so it’s hard to know what constitutes a true emergency. As a result, the 911 system gets overloaded and emergency crews are spread thin. Here’s when you need to call:
• Severe allergic reactions 
• Breathing problems
• Uncontrolled bleeding
• Vomiting or coughing blood
• Loss of consciousness 
• Suicidal ideation
• Poisoning
• When victim cannot move
• Chest pain
• Severe pain especially if it wakes you up
• Sudden changes in behavior like confusion or lack of responsiveness
• Changes in vision or balance
​• You are alone and in distress

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Greatest Professional Photographers 2020

Calling South’s Greatest Photographers! Are you a professional photographer with beautiful work? Enter South’s Greatest Photographers 2020!

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Calling South’s Greatest Photographers! Are you passionate about capturing life through a lens? Enter South’s Greatest Photographers 2020!
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Events Calendar

  • “Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick” Exhibition

    Oct 11, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick examines the work of six contemporary artists—Corey Arnold, Guy Ben-Ner, Patty Chang, Tristin...

  • Blowing Rock WinterFest

    Jan 23, 2020
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM @ Downtown Blowing Rock

    Don’t hibernate-celebrate! Join us for the fun side of winter with events like the Polar Bear Plunge, WinterFeast, WinterPaws Dog Show,...

  • Savannah Jewish Film Festival

    Jan 22, 2020
    6:00 PM - 6:00 PM @ Jewish Educational Alliance of Savannah

    This year’s festival has been capsulated into five days in which movie-goers are encouraged to attend the films, enjoy meals and interact in...

  • Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah

    Jan 23, 2020
    7:00 PM - 10:30 PM @ Trustees Theater

    Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah returns for its 11th annual film festival on January 23-25, 2020.  Please plan to join us for a weekend of...

  • Forsyth Farmer's Market

    Jun 29, 2019
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ South end of Forsyth Park

    The Forsyth Farmers’ Market vendors offer a variety of local goods including seasonal produce, eggs, honey, pastured meat, bread, cheese,...

  • Beatles By Request

    Jan 25, 2020
    8:00 PM - 3:00 PM @ Savannah Theatre

    The Savannah Theatre cast and band recreate the timeless sound of the most influential band of the 20th century. Not an impersonation, but a...

  • Cocoa 5k Fun Run & Walk

    Feb 01, 2020
    8:00 AM - 11:00 AM @ Crystal Coast Civic Center

    Come be a part of the Cocoa Fun Run / Walk on February 1, 2020!  The 5K Race Course is flat and begins and ends at the Crystal Coast Civic Center,...

  • Carolina Chocolate Festival

    Feb 01, 2020
    9:00 AM - 6:00 PM @ Crystal Coast Civic Center

    Chocolate lovers indulge! The annual Carolina Chocolate Festival takes place at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City and is packed with...

  • First Fridays in Starland

    Jun 07, 2019
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Starland District

    First Fridays in Starland celebrates local business, art, and food in Savannah’s coolest neighborhood! Join us every First Friday of the...

  • AURA Fest: Underground Weekend

    Feb 21, 2020
    7:30 PM - 11:45 PM @ The Jinx

    AURA Fest: Underground Weekend at The Jinx February 22, 2020 Torche, Bask, Oakskin, SHEHEHE, Knightsquatch February 21, 2020 Inter Arma, CLOAK,...

  • Savannah Antiques & Architecture Weekend

    Mar 05, 2020
    6:00 PM - 6:00 PM @ Various Locations, Downtown Savannah, Georgia

    The Annual Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend is a three-day series of presentations, tours, appraisals, a glittering gala, and a cocktail...

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Scenes of the South

Dining in the Dark 2020

The Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision held its annual Dining in the Dark event on Saturday, January 18th at the Embassy Suites Downtown Savannah. Guests were served a four-course meal in complete darkness by the Savannah Metro's SWAT team. Dining in the Dark serves to raise awareness about vision loss.

January Brews for a Cause

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle Distributing hosted their monthly Brews for a Cause on Thursday, January 16th at the Savannah Taphouse in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision. The night featured delicious appetizers by Savannah Taphouse and a range of flavored Bud Light Seltzers provided by Southern Eagle. These events provide good food, fun entertainment, refreshing drinks and most importantly – raise money for a great cause! Be sure to be on the lookout for our next Brews in February!

Ford Plantation's Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting for Silk Hope

The Ford Plantation celebrated the completion of its two new Silk Hope model homes on January 10, 2020. The Silk Hope project is limited to 53 homes, on beautiful lots of buyers’ choosing amongst old oaks and a Lowcountry marsh setting. This member-backed project is the first new for sale residential development at The Ford Plantation in more than fifteen years and represents the final phase of home development to be offered. The Silk Hope community is the product of a collaboration of some of the world’s top residential architects and landscape designers and has been modeled to capture tranquil European village and Lowcountry architecture.

Mat Best Signs his New Best-seller at Nine Line

Veteran, entrepreneur and author Mat Best met fans and signed copies of his new book “Thank you for my Service” Thursday Dec. 12 at Nine Line Apparel. Best’s best-selling authorial debut chronicles his service as a U.S. Army Ranger. Best's Black Rifle Coffee co., partnered with Nine Line Apparel, has shops on River st. and off route 95 on Ft. Argyle rd.

Victory Antiques and Engel & Völkers' Holiday Party

Dickey Mopper and his team at Engel and Völkers celebrated the season at their annual holiday party on Wednesday Dec. 11, with a special appearance from the jolly fellow himself, Santa Claus. Mopper and company, celebrating alongside the crew of Victory Antiques, showed off the newest Engel and Völkers office at 1650 East Victory Dr. in Savannah.

Good Times Jazz Bar & Restaurant's 2nd Anniversary Celebration feat. Lady Leah

Jazz lovers celebrated Good Times Jazz bar's second anniversary on Nov. 8 and 9 featuring jazz vocalist Lady Leah and the culinary stylings of Good Times' chef Joe Randall, the dean of southern cuisine. In 2017 Randall teamed with Danielle and Stephen T. Moore to create one of the city's smoothest spots, a confluence of culture and taste fit for the soul of Savannah.

14th Annual Pearls to Pluff Mud Fundraiser

The 14th Annual Pearls to Pluff Mud Fundraiser was held on Friday, November 1st at the Swamp Fox Farms. Guests enjoyed listening to the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra while tasting New Orleans themed dishes. There was a silent and live auction held to raise money for the Focus Fund Campaign for the Cross Schools in Bluffton, SC.

Brews for a Cause November at Savannah Octane Bar

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle Distributing hosted the last Brews for a Cause of 2019 at the Savannah Octane Bar on Thursday, November 21 in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for Georgia Police K9 Foundation. The night featured tasty chicken appetizers catered by Himalayan Curry Kitchen, and special brews from Wicked Weed and Monday Night Brewing provided by Southern Eagle. These events provide good food, fun entertainment, refreshing drinks and most importantly – raise money for a great cause! Be sure to be on the lookout for our next Brews in January!

6th Annual First Responders Luncheon

Harris Lowry Manton LLC hosted its 6th Annual First Responder Appreciation Luncheon on Monday, Oct. 28 at Daffin Park. Free lunch was offered as a “thank you” to local paramedics, firefights, police officers and emergency medical responders.

DineSouth's VIP Icebox

DineSouth 2019 VIP room sponsored by IceBound was a hit at this year’s event! With a special performance by Ken Roy, guests enjoyed exclusive vendors such as sushi from Rue de Jean and popsicles from Savannah Square Pops. Made complete with a full-serve bar, the VIP room was chillingly spectacular!