First responder Hero
Charleston County Emergency Medical Services
Krista Venesky is a first responder with Charleston County EMS. As such, she’s trained to handle a hodgepodge of situations.
But the incident that made her the winner in the “first responder” category was anything but usual. One night, Venesky and her partner responded to what appeared to be a serious accident.
At the scene, there was an overturned car with the driver lying on the ground. It appeared as though the accident had just occurred.
The car was on its roof, destroyed.
As Venesky called the accident into dispatch, her partner got out of the ambulance and started toward the accident victim.
Suddenly, the victim jumped up and started running toward the ambulance. He pushed Venesky’s partner out of the way, opened the driver’s door and climbed into the driver’s seat.
He told Venesky to get out.
Venesky would obey. The man informed her he had a gun.
But first, she pulled the keys from the ignition. Venesky kept the car-jacker locked inside until police arrived by repeatedly pressing the lock button on the electronic key ring.
To Venesky, it was just part and parcel of her job as a first responder.
“All I did was take some keys,” she said. “I’m just glad I was thinking.”
Her boss thought much more of Venesky’s bravery and nominated her for the Health Care Heroes award.
“Instead of running, Ms. Venesky placed herself in harms way to ensure that the man did not hurt anyone else with this large 12,500 pound emergency vehicle,” wrote Charleston County EMS Director Don Lundy.
“Had Ms. Venesky not acted in such a rapid manner, there is no telling who would have been injured or killed,” he wrote.
individual was arrested by Charleston police at the scene of the incident. It was later found that he did not have a weapon. But the man had hijacked another vehicle earlier that day, which belonged to a nurse who had stopped to help at another
First Responder Finalist
911 Dispatch Team, Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office
For the 911 dispatch team at Dorchester County Sheriff’s office, their job is no walk in the park.
In 12-hour shifts, the team must field calls from stressed people in emergencies, watch six screens at a time, dispatch proper teams, keep track of police vehicles coming and going and use radio transmission to talk with emergency vehicles.
They multi-task because people’s lives depend on it.
From either 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., dispatch members man the phones without the luxuries of things like lunch breaks and ‘taking-it-easy’ days.
The team has helped deliver babies, revive people, catch the “bad guy,” assist victims in car crashes and talked people through numerous high-stress situations.
“The most difficult thing about our job is that we are dealing with most people at the worst times in their lives,” said Amy Suggs, dispatcher.
This creates an emotional and stressful roller coaster ride throughout the work day.
“The highs can be very high but in the same token the lows can be very low,” Suggs said. “This can happen many times during the day.”
The team is trained every week throughout a three-month period, although this doesn’t offer a respite from the stress.
“Training can be pretty intense because it is “on-the-job” training,” Suggs said. “But in the end we can never train for every situation that can occur — every day is different.”
One of the hardest things the dispatch team faces is when one of their own is being affected. When one of the deputies calls in, or family and friends need help, the team comes together to support each other.
“We all pull together like a family when the going gets rough,” Suggs said.
The team includes Linda Driggers, Amy Suggs, Angie Williams, Cora Helms, George Muckenfuss, Theresa Wilson, Fayth Grooms, Karen Jagoda, Sherri Pendergast, Chris Brooks, Whitney Galloway, Lauren Cheek, Hannah Jones, Jill Regan, Miranda Stephenson, Katie McGahee and Mary Moravek.