It Takes an Entire Community to Raise a Good EMT



“Making a difference for the good of the Community” is the philosophy of three new employees of the Gila River Emergency Medical Services (GR EMS).

GR EMS began providing EMT training in 2007. The first class started out small with three graduates. Two were Community members. The second class resulted with seven graduates. Five were Community members, and of those, three were hired as full-time EMTs. Today, GR EMS is in the process of finalizing its third class.


The following are three success stories. In May 2008, Teles Pablo, D3, began studying for his EMT certificate and received it in Jan. 2009. His goal was to become a smoke-jumper fire fighter with EMT certification. You see, Pablo has experience with the Hotshot team that battled the San Diego County Wildfires of 2007. Pablo received a medal from the State of California for his Hotshot role and had the opportunity to meet President George W. Bush and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

During his EMT studies Pablo’s focus changed gears. Pablo tested and secured a full-time position with GR EMS. Pablo’s advice is, “Don’t let today’s best be a standard you set for the rest of your life. Do your best every day and wake up tomorrow and strive for more.”

Desiree Pablo, D3, is a recent hire by the GR EMS and is the sister of Teles Pablo. Pablo attributes her graduation from Casa Grande Union High School to her father. At the suggestion of brother, Pablo decided to take the EMT classes. Medical terminology was a struggle, but conversations with GR EMS employees during ambulance ride-alongs paid off.

She remembers a particular “vehicular” with Paramedic, Alyssa Van Story. After that incident, Pablo knew she would do whatever it took to become an EMT.

Classmates Philip Lewis and Jesse Puentes were instrumental in helping accomplish her goal. Pablo became a certified in Jan. 2009 and secured a position this past summer. Pablo says, “As much as you want to stop and give up your dreams when life gets tough, look for that special person to push you forward.”

Philip Lewis, D1, is the third Community member hired this past summer. Lewis is a graduate from Coolidge High School. Lewis was a recipient of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant. Lewis was enrolled at University of Arizona in premed with the goal of becoming a pediatrician. After two semesters at U of A, Lewis completed an internship with the Office of Emergency Management. After a housing glitch at U of A, Lewis shifted gears and accepted an offer to continue at OEM in a temporary position. Lewis continued his studies at Central Arizona College. The opportunity to attend EMT classes presented itself when Lewis suffered an auto accident.

Lewis said Jeffrey Mercado, Assistant Director, was the first paramedic on the scene followed by the Fire and Police who assisted with medical and traffic control.

Lewis witnessed all three public safety departments come to his aid and decided that he wanted to be one of those team members – “Someone who makes an impact on you when you are having the worst day of your life.”

Lewis also credits his classmates who helped him through the rigors of a full-time work and school.

These three Community members are a testament to the fact that it takes a Community to raise an EMT. Without the Community’s input and involvement, it would otherwise have been almost impossible.

The EMTs and Paramedics at GR EMS are mentors and role models for the students in the program.

And, of course, thanks to the elders in the Community who teach and inspire our young people. It is all these people, working as a community, who helped the three Community members to want to make a difference—and they have.

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