Mississippi’s first statewide memorial service for emergency medical services was held at the Holmes Community College Ridgeland campus on Thursday.
The event recognized emergency medical caregivers who have died, some in the line of duty, since 1974.
Emserv, the ambulance service at the South Regional Medical Center in Laurel, is one of many agencies that have faced multiple losses in recent years.
“We’ve experienced two deaths,” said Wyth Collins, Emserv Director. “One of which was just about a month ago. Our very beloved Anthony Tompkins who was a paramedic with us (his wife Meghan is also a paramedic with us) and another paramedic Keith McMullin a number of years ago. His son actually works for us now. Those people we honor as an agency, but to see the state come in and honor them is important to us.”
The service started and finished with an honor guard procession which posted the U.S. and Mississippi state flags at half-mast. This was followed by speakers including Governor Tate Reeves, State Health Officer Dr. Daniel Edney, Director of the Mississippi Department of Health Bureau of Emergency Medical Services David Hall, and more.
Gov. Reeves says that the state wanted to honor EMS members especially in light of their sacrifices during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic played a major role in that many of these individuals that were here today and unfortunately some of those 132 who lost their life was during the pandemic,” said Gov. Reeves. “The thing that I said here today that I think is important is going back 1972 the most federally declared diasters that Mississippi had in one year was four prior to me becoming Governor. We’ve had 14 in my first 14 months. These men and women in emergency medical services showed up every single time to help there fellow Mississippians and we should all be thankful for it.”
According to Gov. Reeves, the state is aiming for this to be an annual tradition.
(Editor’s note: The original story reported the estimated number of deaths at 132, citing statistics given in multiple reports, but we have corrected that since we were told by Emergency Medical professionals that it was a rough count and could be inaccurate.)