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June 24, 2008     Cape Gazette
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June 24, 2008
 

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4 TUESDAY, JUNE 24- THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2008 NEWS cape Gazette " Thousands gather to mourn one of their own Lewes paramedic honored as a hero By Ron MacArthur ronm@capegazette.com Thousands of paramedics and firefighters from throughout the eastern United States gathered in Georgetown Saturday, June 21, to pay their last respects to one of their own. Sussex County paramedic Stephanie L. Callaway, 31, of Lewes, died in an ambulance ac- cident four days earlier while treating a patient, Betty I. Hall, 82, also of Lewes, who also died in the accident. "I hope that a tragedy like this will strengthen our collective re- solve to continue to do what we in public service do - take care of others," said Sussex County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Deputy Director Robert Stuart, as he gave the eulogy at Callaway's service. "Today the others are us, so please take care of one another." Stuart is also a friend of the Callaway family. Following a three-hour view- ing at Delmarva Christian High School, where scores of family, friends and fellow emergency workers stood in line for as long as an hour, an honor guard led a solemn procession of hundreds of paramedic, ambulance and fire trucks through Georgetown. Her flag-draped coffin was placed in a county paramedic truck as Callaway's fellow coun- ty paramedics, dressed in white shirts and black ties, stood in salute. Personnel and units came from as far away as Boston, RON MACARTHUR PHOTOS CURRENT, RETIRED AND FORMER SUSSEX COUNTY PARAMEDICS stand in solemn tribute to a fallen Comrade following the viewing for Stephanie Callaway at Delmarva Christian High School. nity College, the site of the fu- neral service. It took nearly an hour for all of the units to arrive at the college. Mass.; Baltimore, Md.; and Wake County, N.C. Paramedics from units in Kent and New Castle counties were on duty in Sussex County on Sat- urday so that mot of her col- leagues could attend the service', said Chip Guy, Sussex County di- rector of public information. "HER WHOLE LIFE WAS BUILT AROUND PUBLIC SERVICE; SHE WAS ALWAYS ON THE FOT LNE/' - THE REV. BOB HUDSON The procession paused for about five minutes outside the Sussex County EMS headquar- ters building near Route 113 where her colleagues had placed paramedic equipment in fitting tribute. There, the Georgetown Fire Company alarm sounded and a radio dispatch symbolized Call- away's last alarm. The procession continued to Delaware Technical & Commu- The Sussex County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Honor Guard leads the procession on The Circle under the U.S. flag in downtown Georgetown. het rife In a mal tribute at the college her casket was rolled through a line of saluting paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and fire fighters as bag- pipers played 'Amazing Grace," and members of the Delaware State Police played "Taps." A flyover by Delaware State Police and Delaware LifeNet hel- icopters paid tribute to the young woman who had dedicat- ed her entire adult life to-com- munity service. Callaway's funeral service at the Carter Partnership Center at Delaware Technical & Commu- nity College was not elaborate at the request of her family. "This is a really tough day, but God will give us strength," said the Rev. Charles Arnold, a Lewes Fire Department member and one of two preachers taking part in the service. "We are here to shed a tear, but also to celebrate her life," Arnold said. "When you go back to Station 77, laugh, dance and remember her." The Rev. Bob Hudson, family pastor, said he has always felt close to Stephanie. He officiated at her marriage to Steve in 2000, baptized her sons and rode on ambulances with her. He said he even carried around a photo- graph of Stephanie and Steve's two young sons, Matthew, 6, and Ryan, 2, in his Bible. Both sons were born on the same day, ]an. 17. "It's a great loss to me be- cause I loved her very much," he said. Hudson was at the hospital with Steve following the acci- dent. "He looked at me and said, 'Stephanie gave her life doing what she loved,'" Hudson said. "She always met the needs of other people." Callaway served as a volunteer EMT and rirefighter dating back to 1993 with the Georgetown -Ambulance Service, Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department, Millsboro VFW Ambulance Ser- vice and Lewes Fire Department. She also worked as a county dis- patcher from 1997 to 2000. She worked for Kent County EMS after graduation from The procession, stretching out for about two miles, enters downtown Georgetown. Volunteer firefighters, including several from the Lewes Fire Department of which Stephanie Callaway was a member, stand in tribute at Delaware Tech prior to the funeral service. Sussex County EMS staff stands at attention during the last alarm for paramedic Stephanie Callaway at the Sussex County EMS headquarters. Delaware Tech in 2001, and joined Sussex County EMS in 2003. She was a field training of- ricer, public information officer and president of the Sussex County Paramedic Association. "Nothing was second best for Stephanie; everything had to be done the very best," Hudson said. "Her whole life was built around public service - she was always on the front line." Hudson said what he misses the most, and what her friends, colleagues and family will miss, was her smile. "Her smile would knock your socks off," he said. "God has an- other job for her. She's smiling at heaven's gates with St. Peter." He told her coworkers to talk about the good times. "Remem- ber those precious times and share them," he said. Only one musical selection was played during the service, "Spirit in the Sky," a classic rock song released by Norman Green- baum in 1969. Stuart, who delivered the eulo- gy, talked about the EMS family. He said everyone who joins the EMS family has an event that inspires their need to get in- volved to help others. He said Callaway once helped her neigh- bors during aftre, and that single event set the stage for her life's work. Stuart, who was the adminis- trator on call when the accident occurred, said he hoped that no- body ever gets that call again. This was the LrSt line-of-duty death in the 18-year history of Sussex County EMS. Callaway's paramedic number- 1357- was retired in her honor and all county emergency medical serv- ices staff will wear her number on their helmets for 30 days. Stuart concluded the eulogy with a passage from Callaway's MySpace page: "Live today to the fullest because tomorrow is not promised." Callaway was in the rear com- partment of a Mid-Sussex Res- cue Squad ambulance on the way to Beebe Medical Center around 2:40 a.m. Tuesday, June 17, when the driver, Michael Wissman, 34, of Frankford swerved off Route 24 to miss a deer. The ambulance struck a tree with the right side of the vehicle. Wissman and another EMT, Brice Hickman, 47, of Dagsboro were treated for injuries at Beebe Medical Center and re- leased. The accident, and anoth- er crash in January involving a Millsboro ambulance at the in- tersection of Route 23 and Route 5, has caused the Delaware Vol- unteer Firemen's Association to start an investigation into the safety of patient compartments in ambulances.