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McCarty brings determination to EMS

Staff writer

When Brandy McCarty entered her new office for the first time as EMS director, the shelves on the walls were empty.

“I had to start from scratch,” she said.

The bareness was mostly symbolic — a flood has required a reorganization of files in the office. Nonetheless, McCarty has a lot to learn about her position, including her exact job description.

“Give me a couple weeks,” she says with a laugh.

She spent most of her first week working with secretary Jamie Shirley adjusting to the office, as well as going around to different stations and familiarizing herself with crews, if they’re in. Once she’s met the crews, she’ll move on to getting to know the communities they serve. She sees one of her foremost roles for EMS as that of an advocate.

“If we’re not there for the communities and the volunteers that we have working, then we don’t have a volunteer service, right? So we’ve got to listen to people,” she said.

After more than three months under interim director JoAnn Knak, the county EMS department has its first full-time EMS director since Steve Smith was fired in late June.

McCarty, a Marion High School graduate, had been filling in as the crew chief of Marion Ambulance since Smith’s departure. Before that, she was a volunteer EMT and operator at Parkside Homes Assisted Living.

With a new director comes new policies and ideas, but McCarty will take time to get adjusted before making any major changes. An EMS board of directors, made up of McCarty, Medical Director Paige Dodson, and others — McCarty isn’t exactly sure yet who will be asked and who will agree to do it — will be one of the biggest changes for McCarty.

She said while she did not come up with the idea for the board, she supports it wholeheartedly.

McCarty said she wants the departments, such as fire and ambulance crews to work more closely with one another, citing the Hillsboro EMS and fire departments as two groups that work tremendously together that the rest of the county should aspire to.

She also said she wants to reach out to schools to make a connection with younger kids there. She said doing so could lead to more volunteers for EMS down the line.

“We’ve got to get our image out there to raise and grow EMS,” she said.

She also wants to reach out to outlying communities to get their input.

“It’s very easy to get sidetracked with the primary towns — Peabody, Hillsboro, Marion — and we can’t forget about those little towns out there,” she said.

McCarty said accepting the position for her was “exciting but scary.” She admits she’s not a complete medical expert — she is determined to take her written AEMT exam and earn her certification by the end of the year — but she’s confident in her ability to lead thanks to her willingness to learn and her “incredibly supportive” husband Tate, who has helped her tidy up around the office and get settled in.

McCarty said she learned a lot from Smith as well as local EMS staples Gene Winkler and JoAnn Knak, among others. While some she’s encountered since taking the position have been skeptical, most people have been overwhelmingly supportive and positive, which she herself professes to be.

She has a 19-year-old son, Patrick, who is currently deployed with the Navy in the Arabian Sea.

“This is the best time in my life to put my time and energy into something like this,” she said. “This is my baby right now.”

Last modified Oct. 30, 2014

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