Three years ago, Taishana Lewis called her brother’s cellphone to offer him a ride, but got no answer. She called another family member, but still could not reach him. Twenty minutes later she learned why: Her brother had been shot five times in a drive-by shooting.
But thanks to Boston Emergency Medical Service responders, he survived. And on Monday, Lewis’s younger brother pinned her Boston EMS badge to her uniform during a ceremony at Faneuil Hall for the city’s newly minted emergency responders.
Lewis said she was inspired to follow her new career path by the Boston EMTs who saved her brother’s life.
“I’d like to be able to give back what was given to my family and hopefully give someone that same reward of getting their loved one back,” said Lewis, 35, before the Boston EMS Academy graduation.
“It was a long road; it was a hard road,” she said. “But I did it along with my 22 other classmates.”
Lewis took the Boston EMS community emergency medical technician course and enrolled in the academy hoping to change lives, much as the emergency responders changed her brother’s life on that violent summer night.
Her brother, Matthew Lewis-Grant, 25, now lives in Florida, but made the trip back north to see his sister graduate.
“He’s excited,” she said. “He’s super proud.”
The rest of Lewis’s family, including her father, Bruce Holloway, a Boston police superintendent, watched as Lewis was officially recognized as a Boston EMT.
“I’m nervous, but excited,” Lewis said. “I’m proud of myself.”
Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said the graduates will be expected to use their training, six months of classroom instruction, and field training, to provide the finest medical care possible.
“As a Boston EMS EMT, your presence alone will ease fears,” Ferrer said. “You will respond to emergencies large and small, and, most importantly, you will save lives. I am confident you will do so with poise, compassion, and the highest standards of care.”
When Lewis begins her duties Tuesday, she will keep in mind the life-saving efforts of rescue workers who gave her brother a second chance.
On that warm June night in 2009, she called her brother around 11 p.m. to see if he wanted a ride home. Lewis soon learned that her brother had been shot five times and dragged by a car while leaving a barbecue on Thetford Avenue in Dorchester.
Grateful for her brother’s rescue and inspired by the commitment of emergency responders, Lewis felt driven to make more of a difference in people’s lives, she said.
She was working as a medical assistant at the Martha Elliot Health Center at the time, but her cousin, a Boston police officer, suggested she look into becoming an EMT.
“I decided to give it a shot. It’s just been a rolling ball since then,” Lewis said. “I like helping people and I am from this community. What better way to give back?”
James Hooley, Boston EMS chief, has no doubts that Lewis and the rest of her class will be successful.
“At Boston EMS we recognize the complexities of working in an urban environment and hold our personnel to a higher clinical standard,” said Hooley. “When these EMTs officially begin their duties tomorrow, we have the utmost confidence that they are best prepared to handle any situation set before them.”
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