Volunteer responders save lives, big money for Shelby County

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - The Mid-South is known as one of the most generous areas in the U.S., and nowhere is that more evident than the men and women of the Shelby County emergency medical responders.

There is no such thing as a typical day for these responders.

Their shift starts at the base near Shelby Farms, checking equipment and loading their truck for a day of patrol and service.

For the next eight hours, Don Riley and Annette Sangster will patrol the county providing back-up for dispatched Shelby County Fire and Paramedics.

Sometimes on the slow days, a joke or two helps to keep things interesting until they are called into action.

But the jokes stop when these county volunteers are called upon. It's a job they do for the love of serving, not for the money.

"A dollar a year, yes," said Annette Sangster, who's been an SCSO responder for six years. "Even if they didn't pay me the dollar, I would do it."

A friend of Sangster's sparked her curiosity into the program six years ago.

Three days a week, she's a physical therapist assistant. But for at least 24 hours a month, she's on the frontlines responding to emergencies.

"We are there as an emergency medical when an accident happens, when they call for us," Sangster said. "When they call for our need."

Volunteering for her partner, Don Riley, provided a new way to give back. For the past 40 years, Riley has been in ministry.

"It's easy to teach bible studies and it's easy to do missions, but when you are out there in the public you have to be prepared to face any extenuating circumstance," Riley said.

All 135 Emergency Medical Responders go through several months of medical training, preparing them for any emergency.

Their willingness to serve saves the county millions of dollars each year.

In 2017, these volunteers saved Shelby County roughly $7.3 million, donating their time and talent for the love they have for their community.

"We are there to assist," Riley said. "We are there to help out. We are there to serve."

The county's emergency medical responders will walk alongside the AFSCME march from Beale Street to Mason Temple next Wednesday.

They said it's just one of the many dozens of events they will assist with in April.

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