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Martha Mathis, October 2021 Valley's First Responder

Martha Mathis, a paramedic, has worked with HEMSI for 12 years.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — We know first responders risk their lives to save others, and one HEMSI paramedic goes above and beyond by focusing on her patients' mental health as well.

Keneisha Deas says her name is Martha Mathis, and she is this month's Valley's First Responder!

"I had an 18-year-old male that was shot in the head. Not for any reason other than just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time; and you get busy working and you don't really look at people's faces. I looked down at his face and at that moment I wasn't a paramedic anymore, I was mama," said HEMSI Paramedic, Martha Mathis.

For Mathis, working with HEMSI as a paramedic is more than a shift. The people she crosses paths with are more than just her patients.

"Your patient's mental health is your guest in their life. We are with these people for 15-20 minutes, but the words that you say to them will impact them beyond your interaction with them. They will remember the people who were kind to them," said Mathis. 

Twelve years and counting Mathis has worked with HEMSI after shifting from a potential career in nursing.

Her supervisor Don Webster hired her.

"She's one of those great outgoing personalities. She loves her patients. She is so compassionate, she really cares about them. She's good to follow up with them to say what the outcome is. I think her heart lays probably with a special interest in mental health patients, and we see a lot of patients that have mental health issues," said HEMSI Public Information Officer, Don Webster.

When asked what's most challenging for her, Mathis said: "That's actually hard to say because what most people may find simplistic is challenging because we're dealing with humans and dynamics and emotions."

"So we tend to have sometimes, the first interaction with mental health patients. Sometimes we're the only interaction with mental health patients especially ones that we come in contact with frequently," she added.

Mathis said there is a need for more mental health resources. "You have to find a place within yourself, to really advocate for people who don't have the ability to advocate for themselves. And it's important sometimes to find a way to find resources for these people when they're so limited."

"We continue building these positive relationships with the other agencies and entities, and that we are just able to continue to be a voice to advocate for people to give them the help that they need to get them into programs to make them understand that there are resources for them and for everybody," said Mathis.

Thank you Martha! Do you know someone who could be the next Valley's First Responder? Nominate them! 

To do that, click here.