Silent Heroes

“It’s a God-given gift. That’s all I can say. You can learn processes and procedures, but you can’t always learn how to remain calm and compassionate in a time of urgency. That’s something you have to already have in you.”

Corrine Kulis cuts to the chase when explaining the “ins and outs” of her job— a job that saves lives, but rarely gets the limelight.

Kulis, an emergency medical dispatch training officer with American Medical Response (AMR), a Global Medical Response (GMR) solution, works out of AMR’s Lewisville, Texas office. As an EMS professional, she’s used to responding to multiple calls, ranging in everything from minor cuts and scratches—and even a choking dog—to, of course, life-and-death situations. The latter was the case during a call she took in April 2023, when a girl from Johnson County reported that her mother had collapsed at home and wasn’t breathing.

“I remember the girl being composed; she wasn’t panicking,” recalls Kulis. “Sometimes children are the best 911 callers, because they just tell you what’s going on without too much emotion and then do what you tell them to do. They don’t argue with you.”

That’s what happened between Kulis and the girl, who followed Kulis’ CPR instructions precisely and, as a result, was able to care for her mother until an EMS crew arrived at the scene and took over the situation. 

Fortunately, the girl’s mother survived and made a full recovery — an outcome that happened largely because of Kulis’ initial counsel as well as the intervention provided by the responding EMTs. 

And while Kulis didn’t think twice about the role she played in that call, local leaders did. In late July 2023, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office presented her with two awards: One from Johnson County and the other from 911 Athletes & Entertainers/911 For Kids, both recognizing Kulis’ extraordinary service, which helped a minor keep her mother alive until first responders arrived.

“It was a real honor to receive this kind of acknowledgement but, to be honest, that’s not why I do what I do, and it’s probably not why my colleagues in this field do what they do,” said Kulis. “Sure, the accolades are nice. Who doesn’t like to hear that they did a good job. But at the end of the day, that’s not why we do it. We do it because we want to help. It’s a calling for some of us.”

Silent heroes. That’s what they’ve been called by some who know how the 911 medical emergency business works. Every day, Kulis and other public servants, like her, take calls, relay kind, but authoritative information while serving as the go-between for patients and first responders. And then, after all these interactions play out, the one thing these representatives never do, is draw attention to themselves or their commitment to service.

“We may not get that ‘pat on the back’ for a job well done every day, but that’s okay,” said Kulis. “We can make a difference in that one caller’s life, and that’s plenty to keep us motivated in our work; that’s what keeps us going.”

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