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Even doing the right thing has a price.

I’ve spent hours over the past month editing and rendering the first ems leg•a•cy sto•ries© video. Once it was released out into the wild of the internet, I thought I had gleaned everything I could from the interview. After all, I had listened to it countless times as I edited the video.

The very morning after putting the video online,  I ran into Dick again.

We exchanged our greetings, and he cut to the chase to talk about two things he’d do differently in the interview. The first was to be more intentional about highlighting the work of others in the department. “I should have done that,” he said. “I wasn’t interviewing you to find out about others,” I said. We both laughed.

He continued, “I don’t think I said enough about the role that Ruth Ann played. She lost a lot because I was often gone. I should have been clear about the amount of sacrifice she made.” Neither of us laughed.

I thought of my father who often laments the sacrifices my mother made during his life of service to the Mennonite Church and Hesston College. I thought of past co-workers who grieve losses tied to their own call to serve. I thought of my own story of absence in the lives of those I care deeply for as I have lived my life of service. I discovered something anew in that discussion with Dick.

Those of us who commit to lives of service will often find in the end that we focus less on the good that we have contributed because of the losses that we feel. The loss of friends because we were absent doing good things. The loss of family bonds because we were absent doing good things. The loss of a marriage because we were absent doing good things. The loss of having not been fully present for those whom we care for most, whom we love, with whom we made commitments – because we were doing good things.

In reflecting on those who came to my mind, I was reminded that the “Ruth Anns” of the world are special people who serve quietly, but with no less commitment, than the ones who are publicly recognized as being in service to others.  On behalf of Dick, and all those who he has served over the years, I say, “Thank you, Ruth Ann.”

Even doing the right thing has a price.

ems leg•a•cy sto•ries(C) is about the past . . . and the future. When we think of what a preferred future is for emergency medical services (EMS), we often focus on the needs present today. And yet, in order to create a better future, it is important to look back.  We benefit from hearing the stories of persons who came before us. These are the people who have developed Kansas EMS as we know it today.

By understanding our heritage, we can create a stronger vision for our future. For this reason, we’ve begun this occasional video series: ems leg•a•cy sto•ries(C).  The series is focused on Kansas EMS. If you are from someplace other than Kansas, we welcome you to this community as well.

In this episode of ems leg•a•cy sto•ries(C), we visit with Dick Toews, retired EMS Chief for the City of Hesston, Kansas Ambulance Department. Dick served from 1959 to 1996. He mentored many providers who have gone on to serve as EMTs, paramedics, service directors, and educators. Dick is one of the quiet leaders whose name you may not recognize. Yet he has been a significant and powerful figure in Kansas EMS who has encouraged and impacted many providers – and through them, patients.

We filmed this in Hesston Station 51 on a Saturday morning in June 2017. This station is where Dick spent the vast majority of his volunteer career. You will hear ambient noise from the station and from vehicles passing by. Envision yourself pulling up a chair at the station to sit by me as we hear what Dick has to say.

We hope you enjoy Dick’s story.

ems legacy stories: richard “dick” toews from Jon Friesen on Vimeo.

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