A Roxbury woman stood tall as she received her Boston EMS badge this morning, pinned on her uniform by her younger brother, whose treatment after he was wounded in a drive-by shooting three summers ago inspired her new career.
“I’d like to be able to give back what was given to my family and hopefully give someone that same reward of getting their loved one back,” said Taishana Lewis, 35, of Roxbury, before the Boston EMS Academy graduation.
“It was a long road, it was a hard road, but I did it along with my 22 other classmates,” she said.
Lewis took the Boston EMS community EMT course and enrolled in the academy hoping to change lives much as the emergency responders changed her brother’s life on that violent summer night.
Her brother, Matthew Lewis-Grant, 25, now lives in Florida, but made the trip back north to see his sister graduate as an EMT and pin her badge at the ceremony.
“He’s excited,” she said. “He’s super-proud.”
The rest of Lewis’s family, including her father, Bruce Holloway, a Boston police superintendent, watched as she was officially recognized as a Boston EMT.
“I’m nervous, but excited,” Lewis said. “I’m proud of myself.”
Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said the graduates will be expected to use their training to provide the finest medical care possible.
“As a Boston EMS EMT, your presence alone will ease fears, you will respond to emergencies large and small, and most importantly, you will save lives,” Ferrer said. “I am confident you will do so with poise, compassion and the highest standards of care.”
When Lewis officially begins her duties Tuesday, she will keep in mind the life-saving efforts of rescue workers that gave her brother a second chance.
On that warm June night in 2009, the worried sister called her brother to see if he wanted a ride home. There was no answer.
Lewis soon learned that her brother had been shot five times and dragged by a car while leaving a barbecue on Thetford Avenue in Dorchester.
Thanks to Boston EMS responders, Lewis-Grant survived.
Grateful for her brother’s rescue and inspired by the commitment of emergency responders, Lewis felt driven to make more of a difference in people’s lives, she said.
She was working as a medical assistant at the Martha Elliot Health Center at the time, but her cousin, a Boston police officer, suggested she look into becoming an EMT.
“I decided to give it a shot. It’s just been a rolling ball since then,” Lewis said. “I like helping people and I am from this community. What better way to give back?”
Boston EMS Chief James Hooley has no doubts that Lewis, and the rest of her class, will be successful.
“At Boston EMS we recognize the complexities of working in an urban environment and hold our personnel to a higher clinical standard,” Hooley said. “When these EMTs officially begin their duties tomorrow, we have the utmost confidence that they are best prepared to handle any situation set before them.” Melissa Werthmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.