Brandy Tharpe juggles EMT work with three departments
“You might not get sleep one night. Or you might have to stop working for a call and put what you were doing on the back burner.” That’s how Chris Russell describes the challenges involved with firefighting and emergency medicine. Russell serves as the Public Safety Director for Charlotte County and says being a volunteer emergency response worker requires being “dedicated to the community.” That’s a mindset, he adds, that members like Brandy Tharpe definitely have.
It’s hard enough to work with one department as an emergency medical technician. Now imagine doing that same job, responding to calls and saving lives, for three different groups. That’s the life Brandy Tharpe leads. In addition to volunteering with the Charlotte Court House Fire Department, Tharpe volunteers at Drake’s Branch Fire and Rescue, while also maintaining a full-time EMT job in Mecklenburg County.
But for Tharpe, it’s not the difficulties or challenges that she focuses on. Instead, she looks at “how this work brings potential good for the community.”
She acknowledges that her job is more about what she can do for others, rather than herself. But at the same time, that alone brings benefits.
“I have gotten closer to the community because of the job,” Tharpe said.
That mindset has also helped her career morph from just a job into an interactive means of service.
A FOCUS ON OTHERS
Those who have worked with Brandy would describe her as dedicated. They say she has a dedication that extends beyond herself, into, as she mentioned before, a focus to help her community in whichever way she can. These are the sentiments that Chris Russell expressed when speaking about his time working with Brandy. Russell currently serves as Charlotte County’s Public Safety Director. But before that, when he still worked as fire chief, Russell helped train Tharpe in her early stages of getting certified. And when we say early, we’re talking about teenage years. Tharpe started volunteering with fire and rescue in Charlotte County when she was 16.
“It was humbling to work alongside the chief and nice to have a role model to guide you,” Tharpe said.
At a time when teenagers are focused on balancing classes and making the most of their youth, Russell found that Brandy “excelled at it (volunteering and juggling high school classes) and put in time and effort.” This is where Russell encountered Brandy’s reliability and dependability as she pursued her career.
But truth be told, her interest in firefighting and emergency medicine started years before that. Growing up with a firefighter father, she started getting interested at around 12 years old. And while she was too young at that point to put on a suit or help at a fire, Tharpe started learning all she could and waiting until the right time.
THE RIGHT TIME
Initially, Tharpe said she was scared to make the transition from teen volunteer to a career EMT. Part of this had to do with some uncertainty about what would become of her volunteer work in emergency response services.
“I thought this would be a hobby..but I decided to turn what (I) love into a career,” Tharpe said. At 19, she received more opportunities to gain certifications in different areas of emergency response. Over the years, Tharpe has received four certifications with one currently pending.
When asked what’s the most stressful part of all this, she laughs and says taking classes to get certified ranks up at the top.
“With taking classes, you don’t know what is going to happen,” Tharpe said. But it’s the stress of those certifications that have led Brandy to the rewarding parts of her career. “It’s rewarding when a patient that you helped remembers you.”
And that goes back to why Tharpe got started with this in the first place, a desire to help others.
Her bonds with co-workers and the people she runs calls with are also important factors for what makes her job enjoyable. Tharpe said she sees her future continuing in emergency response services and doesn’t seek to change her current work anytime soon. Outside of providing care to her community in emergency medical services, she seeks to inspire young people to her field of work.
“For anyone considering (to volunteer) I highly recommend,” is a piece of advice that Brandy has young people interested in her career field.
Editor’s note: Suzanne Bagia wrote this piece for The Charlotte Gazett