What she’s here for: Mom, paramedic in-training finds job rewarding

Published 11:11 am Saturday, June 1, 2024

Kayla Smith is a wife, mother of six, an emergency medical technician and is studying to become a paramedic.

The King’s Daughters Medical Center first responder started with the Emergency Medical Service in 2022. After managing a mobile home dealership for 10 years, she decided she needed a career change and chose the medical field. 

Smith began EMT classes at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, and her first clinical patient had suffered a gunshot wound.

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“As soon as we got him to the hospital and he recovered, I knew this was what I wanted to do,” she said. 

After working for a year as an EMT, she decided to “take the next step” and enroll in paramedic school. “I’ll graduate in December, and stay right where I am.”

The Lincoln County native moved elsewhere for a while, but decided she wanted to return to a small-town area, where she knew more people and there was less traffic. She worked the day shift that first year, then swapped shifts with paramedic Samuel Edwards so she could attend school during the day, work at night, and sleep when possible. 

“What makes me happy is being able to be in control of the situation,” Smith said. “Whenever someone calls us, that means the patient is scared or the family is scared. We’re there to make them feel comfortable and do everything we can to comfort the family during that time.”

When calls are emotionally difficult for her or other EMS, they rely on their partners and supervisors, or preceptors, for debriefing, encouragement, and reassurance.

“KDMC is a great company and we’re there for each other; we help each other out. We’re a family and we don’t change people in and out often.”

Because Lincoln County is a small-town area, Smith said she and her partners encounter people daily that they have helped. 

“More often than not, it’s always good to talk with them and let them tell us ‘thank you,’ whenever the situation is calmer,” said Smith. “I don’t think this is something that just anybody can go into. I think it takes someone who has the mindset and the willpower to do these things.”

When paramedic school is complete, Smith will be able to do more, and will become the pri-mary responder on calls with an older, more experienced partner. Her partner, “Mr. Charles,” is ready to teach and watch, she said, making sure the younger generation is taking over, and learning and doing what they need to do. 

While her job is a very rewarding experience that has changed her life, Smith said it’s not for everyone. 

“It’s a lot to deal with,” she said. For anyone interested in the field, she advised, “Let’s sit down and see if this is something you’re really interested in. Not just anybody can do it. It takes a lot out of somebody to deal with life-or-death situations, or watch someone pass away in front of you, or deal with families as they are crying and upset.”

Nevertheless, she loves her job, and wants people to call on them for assistance.

“I enjoy serving Lincoln County. We’re always here for everybody. Don’t not call 911 because you think you’re bothering us or aggravating us. That’s what we’re here for — to help you and your family.”