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Success Stories

Rural Healthcare Worker Lisa Fensick: An Everyday Hero Saving Lives

Jessica Duerstine
First Responders
Health Care
Rural Development
Smiling woman named Lisa Fensick standing in front of a new ambulance she helped obtain for her fire station.

First responders are often on the front lines of health care, and their impact to rural communities has been immeasurable. For Lisa Fensick of Seaford, Delaware, this impact drove her desire to become a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT). 

“I became a firefighter and EMT, volunteering my time,” Fensick said. “All day long and all night long, I would ride on the ambulance or in fire trucks. Firefighting is one of the most exciting things in the world. And being an EMT is the most rewarding thing.”

In 2000, Fensick joined the EMTs at Georgetown EMS Station 93, in Georgetown, Delaware. She started as an EMT, eventually rising in the ranks to supervisor and then administrator and Captain. Today, she oversees a crew of 20, nine who are full-time EMTs. The crews work 24-hour shifts with two days off, and she fills in spots on the schedule as needed.

Call volume coming into the station had been steadily increasing over the years, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought a new set of challenges to Fensick and her team. 

“We didn’t know what we were walking into, we looked like a white Darth Vader going into these houses because everything was covered from top to bottom,” Fensick said. “You didn’t feel like you had the personal interaction with the people that we’re used to, where I can walk over and touch you and let you know it’ll be okay.” She went on, “it was one call after another, because so many people were getting sick and were so afraid. Even with all the gear, we had EMTs that got sick.” 

This year, Fensick worked tirelessly to help Station 93 get a $350,000 Emergency Rural Health Care Grant from USDA Rural Development to replace an aging ambulance. The increased call volume due to the pandemic strained their current ambulance, sharply increasing the mileage and maintenance required. The closest medical facility is 14 miles from their 911 district and takes approximately one hour per transport for a patient. The new ambulance will allow the station to respond to emergency situations more effectively as well protect themselves and the patrons of the vehicle from COVID-19 virus. She is dedicated to her crew and the community, knowing that the impact she makes everyday changes lives.

“I’ve delivered eight babies in my career,” Fensick said. “I’ve been awarded the Phoenix Award. That’s the award when you do CPR and save the patient’s life. But the best part of the job is you get the chance to help someone who is having a bad day and make it a better day. It’s the satisfaction you get in your heart from knowing you made their day even a little bit better.”

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