Annie Palmer has been named the 2020 Star of Life for LifeNet, Inc. in Texarkana, Texas.

Palmer started her career in EMS because she wanted to make sure she could be able to take care of her family if a medical emergency happened.

“I didn’t know anything about the medical field at the time, and it kind of scared me a little bit.  I had a lot of questions, and the only way to get those questions answered was to go to school,” Palmer said. “Nursing school was not very conducive to also being able to work full-time.  EMS had a lot more flexibility.”

So Palmer started her EMS education at Texarkana College, where she went straight through EMT and paramedic school while working full-time.  With hindsight, she now recommends to new EMTs that they work on an ambulance for at least a year before starting paramedic school.

“There is only so much in EMS you can read about. The books will teach you what to look for, but experiencing it is an unpublished volume, and the only way to read that, is to live it. When you’re on the street, the scenarios are endless. If you work for a year out in the field before you get your medic you’ll be able to recognize some illnesses faster. When you see the different scenarios play out, it’ll be easier to treat your patients,” she said.

While Palmer has over a decade of experience under her belt now, EMS is still a “stepping stone” in her ultimate career path.  She aspires to become an RN and later go to PA school.

The one thing she has truly enjoyed about being a paramedic is being able to speak for others when they cannot speak for themselves.  It is not uncommon to hear stories about how she has gone the extra mile to serve as a patient advocate.

In 2019, Palmer responded to an area homeless shelter to transport a patient with fever. During her history taking she discovered the patient had been seen in a local emergency department earlier in the evening and diagnosed with the flu. After questing the resident and staff at the shelter, Palmer discovered 25 of the 99 occupants at the shelter were experiencing flu-like symptoms. Her attentiveness to the situation and quick thinking allowed LifeNet, Inc. to notify the appropriate agencies of a potential flu outbreak at the shelter. A physician was sent to the shelter to assess and treat some of the patients. After his evaluation, seven patients were hospitalized with the flu and another 19 were prescribed Tamiflu and isolated from the other occupants. Due to her alertness, quick thinking, and notification, the patients were treated and isolated before the outbreak spread to the remainder of the occupants.

Palmer is known for her compassion and dedication to ensuring every patient, no matter why they called for an ambulance, is treated the same.

“They called because they are scared of something, and they don’t have answers. They want you to give them the answers,” she said. “I enjoy being able to be the person that explains things to folks and helps calm the fears that caused them to call us. I think a lot of people are worried about disability or death, and the calls where you can prevent that are really rewarding.”

Palmer truly enjoys responding to calls that are time sensitive, particularly strokes and trauma.

“Nobody in this field wants anyone ever to get hurt. We all care about humanity. That’s why we do this. CVAs (cerebrovascular accident or stroke) and trauma are very time sensitive emergencies. They would be the type of call that fascinates me. Unfortunately, with those, we can’t fix the problem. We’re given an opportunity to improve outcomes by identifying the problem, stabilizing, moving quickly, and getting to a specialist at the hospital safely,” she said.

Palmer was nominated for Star of Life by her peers and selected by a committee of former Stars of Life at LifeNet, Inc.

Some of the words written in her nominations included:

  • “Annie is compassionate and knowledgeable. She is always a phone call away for other EMS professionals who need some advice, and she has a great work ethic.”
  • “Annie consistently portrays a positive attitude and is willing to help whenever possible. I have witnessed her go above and beyond for fellow employees that were going through a difficult time. She is also praised by hospital staff about her caring attitude toward her patients. She is a true joy to work with, and I wish we had more just like her.”
  • “Annie is always picking up shifts. She might be the most compassionate person I’ve met. Annie has a way of making patients feel at ease and goes beyond the medical side of the call. She does the things a lot of people would skip.”
  • “Annie has a positive attitude, wears a smile on her face, and brings others around her up. She cares about her patients and is concerned with their wellbeing beyond what most expect from a healthcare professional. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and is willing to stand her ground to be a patient advocate.”
  • “Annie is a perfect example of how EMS should be represented. She is an amazing medic, very compassionate. She also is 100% all about her EMS family. She would give any of us the shirt off her back if we were in need. She is a ray of light to be around, and you will smile while in her presence.”

Prior to working in EMS, Palmer worked as the copy center manager for a local office source company.  During her tenure in that profession, she enjoyed problem solving, creating logos, and helping business owners figure out how to solve their business needs on projects they did not truly understand before coming to her for help.

When Palmer is not at work, you’ll find her either cooking, painting, or cuddling up watching cartoons with her daughter.  In December of 2019, Palmer got engaged to her fiancé, LifeNet EMT Bill Norton.