OUR VIEW: Michigan needs EMS Memorial

By Daily News • Last Updated 9:55 am on Monday, September 10, 2012

On June 4, 2007, the entire crew of a University of Michigan Survival Flight was killed when their plane went down in Lake Michigan while en route with organs for a transplant. Those who lost their lives included Dr. David Ashburn, a physician in training for cardio-thoracic surgery; Richard Chenault II, a transplant donation specialist; Dennis Hoyes, a Marlin air pilot; Richard Lapensee, a transplant donation specialist; Bill Serra, a Marlin air pilot; and Dr. Martinus “Martin” Spoor, a cardiac surgeon.

On Jan. 26, 2008, emergency medical technician Cheryl Kiefer and her Jackson Community Ambulance partner observed a vehicle lose control and crash. When the emergency workers stopped to help, another vehicle lost control, striking and killing Kiefer.

On July 10, 2010, a medical flight was en route from Alma to the Mayo Clinic in Wisconsin when the plane went down in Lake Michigan, eight miles from the shores of Ludington. Those who lost their lives included co-pilot Earl Davidson, Dr. James Hall; Alma Schools Superintendent Don Pavlik and his wife, Irene.

These are just a few of the tragedies that sometimes happen to emergency workers on the job here in Michigan.

Police and firefighters have their own statewide and national memorials — and rightfully so — but emergency workers are lacking their own memorial in Michigan.

So we were glad to hear a local firefighter and emergency worker is doing something about it.

Eric Liddy Sr., a rescue attendant for Montcalm County Emergency Services Rescue 20 and an Amble firefighter, was inspired in part by Kiefer’s funeral to create an EMS Memorial in Michigan. Liddy sought out Kiefer’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 is being assisted in his efforts by Tim Tremain, who runs ambulance and Rescue 25 for Montcalm County; Jerry McCoy, a paramedic who also is retired as emergency manager and director of emergency services for Montcalm County; Greg Burns, a paramedic from Au Gres; Noah Farrer, a paramedic at Mobile Medical Response; Shane Grinnell of Elsie, a former medical examiner investigator, emergency worker and firefighter in Montcalm County and a emergency worker in Flint; 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; Kat VanSickle, an EMS worker and paramedic; and Ron Wolford, the medical director and training officer of Alanson/Littlefield Fire, Rescue and EMS.

Sounds like a solid, experienced crew to us.

The nonprofit memorial is being modeled after the National EMS Memorial and would feature an annual weekend-long event in central Michigan for emergency workers, their family and friends.

We stand behind Liddy’s vision “that all EMS personnel that have died in the line of duty within the state of Michigan be remembered and never forgotten.”

For more information about the ongoing Michigan EMS Memorial project, email michiganEMSmemorial@yahoo.com, visit michiganEMSmemorial.org or search “Michigan EMS Memorial” on Facebook.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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