STANTON — Emergency Medical Services isn’t as historically established in Michigan as firefighting and police work.
But EMS work can be just as dangerous.
On Jan. 26, 2008, Cheryl Kiefer, 23, an emergency medical technician for Jackson Community Ambulance, was extricating a patient on I-94 with her partner at the scene of an accident she and her partner had just witnessed in Washtenaw County. As the duo worked, another vehicle rolled over and slid off the wintery freeway, pinning Kiefer between two vehicles. She was extricated and transported to the University of Michigan Hospital, but she died from her injuries.
Eric Liddy Sr., a rescue attendant for Montcalm County Emergency Services Rescue 20 and an Amble firefighter, attended Kiefer’s funeral, which was one of the largest funerals he had ever seen.
Liddy was inspired, in part by Kiefer’s legacy, to create an EMS Memorial in Michigan. A national EMS Memorial exists and some states have their own, but not Michigan.
“We’re kind of forgotten,” Liddy said. “We want to try to draw the EMS community closer together.”
Liddy sought out Keifer’s family and requested permission to use Kiefer as a model upon which to create a statue. The monument, which will bear the names of at least 33 EMTS, EMS support staff, medical first responders, specialists, registered nurses, physicians, pilots and more, all of who died while on duty in Michigan, will eventually be displayed at the Gratiot County Fairgrounds in Alma.
Liddy, who is recently retired from the Detroit Fire Department EMS Division, is also working to create an official Michigan EMS Memorial, with the help of Tim Tremain, who runs ambulance and Rescue 25 for Montcalm County; Jerry McCoy, a paramedic who is also retired as emergency manager and director of emergency services for Montcalm County; Noah Farrer, a paramedic at Mobile Medical Response; Robert Hardwick, a paramedic at Detroit Fire Department EMS Division, director of the Michigan EMS Honor Guard and executive commander of Detroit EMS Honor Guard; and Ron Wolford, the medical director and training officer of Alanson/Littlefield Fire, Rescue and EMS.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, but I think it will be very well worth it,” Tremain said. “It will give people a chance to come together and celebrate the lives of those who died while in service. We want it to be a celebration of their lives.”
“It always has been and still is near and dear to my heart,” added McCoy. “I’m just thrilled to still have a bit of a hand in EMS and where this is going.”
The nonprofit memorial is being modeled after the National EMS Memorial. The group wants at least one representative from each of the state’s regions, including the Upper Peninsula, Northern Michigan, Southern Michigan and Central Michigan. The memorial would consist of an annual weekend-long event in central Michigan.
“It is our vision that all EMS personnel that have died in the line of duty within the state of Michigan be remembered and never forgotten,” Liddy summarized.
For more information about the ongoing Michigan EMS Memorial project, email michiganEMSmemorial@yahoo.com, visit michiganEMSmemorial.org or search “Michigan EMS Memorial” on Facebook.