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Jefferson Award Winner Volunteer EMT: 'Somebody could lose their life if we weren't here.'

Holly Volunteer Ambulance
Teri Hetrick
Posted at 4:00 PM, Nov 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-07 19:14:47-05

HOLLY, CO — If you have a medical emergency in Holly, Colorado you'll probably see Teri Hetrick show up at your door.

"We average about 125 to 140 service calls a year and I probably respond on 90-95% of them," Hetrick said.

She's been a volunteer EMT in her hometown just four miles from the Kansas border for more than 30 years.

"If we didn't do it, there wouldn't be anyone to do it, and somebody could lose their life if we weren't here," she said.

She's never really off duty because, in a town of about 800 people, where everybody knows everybody, everyone knows Hetrick will help any time day or night.

"I've had people knock on my bedroom window in the middle of the night," she said.

One day her next-door neighbor showed up unexpectedly.

"A baby fell off the bed and hit his head, he was seven months old, and the mom knocked on (our) door," Hetrick said. "We were eating and I got up and I said, 'I don't know what's wrong but something's wrong with your baby.' She had (the baby) in her arms and when I opened the door his little eyes were rolled back in his head. I grabbed him and put him on the floor and started CPR and mouth-to-mouth and he left. He had a skull fracture but he lived and he's in eighth grade this year."

Her rescues over the decades have been filled with many highs and lows. She says one of the most difficult was responding to the tornado in Holly that killed two people in 2007.

"It didn't matter who you were, everybody stepped in help," she said.

Those calls for help get especially hard when she's called to the home of a friend. One of those calls was to help her friend Mavis Bryan.

"I told her husband, 'Pack a bag because they're not going to keep her in Lamar. She is septic,'" Hetrick said.

Bryan says Hetrick saved her life when she went into septic shock from a cat bite on her elbow.

"They said if it had been a few hours later, I wouldn't have made it," Bryan said.

Her worst moment came when she lost her ambulance run partner, Richard Flores. A permanent memorial for Flores now stands outside the ambulance barn on First Avenue.

"He had a heart attack, and I had to work him, and that was probably the hardest run I've ever done," Hetrick said.

Her work with her all-volunteer team takes them all over Prowers County. They cover about 750 square miles including Holly and Hartman and help in other parts of the county when asked.

"If we go to county line its 30 miles either direction, then 30 miles back into town, and then 30 miles to the hospital (in Lamar) so you might have to work that patient an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes before you ever get them to a hospital," Hetrick said.

It's work that was inspired in part by her father, Louis Glover.

"I was in the fire department 20 years," Glover said.

Glover was Holly's first fire chief. He says his daughter was ready to serve before she was even legally an adult.

"The first EMT course Teri was taking about halfway through they found out she was only 17 so they kicked her out," Glover said.

It's the kind of dedication Hetrick's daughter knew was important to recognize when she nominated her mother for a Jefferson Award.

"She risks her life, she saves lives, she does it without any acknowledgment," said her daughter Ashley Armstrong.

That's exactly why Teri Hetrick was chosen as a winner of the News 5 Jefferson Award.

The Jefferson Awards were started more than 50 years ago in part with the help of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. If you know of someone deserving of this recognition we want to know about it.

Click here for the nomination form.

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