Students and staff honor fallen EMS professionals

Photo Courtesy Leaugeay Barnes
Kel Lowe, Stephanie Sides, Megan Phifer, Patrick Hyatt, Leaugeay Barnes, D.J. Michael, Jim Pearson and Ashot Boymushakyan participated in the nationwide three-day bike ride that spanned approximately 160 miles across the Colorado Rockies June 20 through June 22. The event was to honor fallen EMS professionals.

The National EMS Memorial Bike Ride served its purpose of remembering heroes of the past while providing new memories for the future.

To honor fallen EMS professionals, students and faculty from OCCC’s EMS program participated in the nationwide three-day bike ride that spanned approximately 160 miles across the Colorado Rockies, June 20 through June 22.

OCCC SEMSA President and paramedic student Jimmy Pearson said it was a ride to remember.

“This was the most amazing and unselfish thing I have ever done in my life,” Pearson said.

“The event was the most rewarding in every aspect imaginable. We laughed, suffered and then cried our eyes out—together as one, one team, with one purpose.”

Photo Courtesy Leaugeay Barnes
Stacy Wily, Crystal Young and Skye Mellow, members of support and gear, were a crucial part of survival, Student Jimmy Pearson said. They provided water, nutrition, supplies, a ride when necessary and they transported luggage.

EMS Student Kel Lowe said the goal of honoring former EMS professionals was no easy task.

“The ride was brutal,” she said. Yet aside from the physical tolls the ride took on her, Lowe accepted the costs of the memorial.

“It reminded us of the pain and suffering that those who have come before us have endured,” she said.

“The ride was rewarding, which reminded us of how dedicated those we rode for were to the field of EMS.

“The ride was encouraging, which allowed us to push ourselves to be our best and give our all, again like those before us.”

Through hot temperatures and high winds, OCCC paramedic student Stephanie Sides said all riders helped each other along the 160-mile marathon.

“A local medic stayed with me and encouraged me—and when I was struggling a fellow bike rider literally pushed me up the hill so I could make it,” Sides said.

“It meant a lot to always have someone there.”

Upon completion of the bike ride, formal memorial services were conducted to further honor the deceased, ill, and injured EMS professionals.

“The services afterward and seeing the families made it worth it,” Sides said.

Among them, Pearson said riders delivered dog tags of the fallen to their families.

“We told them the story of what we endured to deliver the dog tags and listened to their story of what they had endured losing their loved ones.”

In addition to celebrating the lives and sacrifices of former EMS professionals, current employees and students united together through the memorial service.

“The bonds that were developed over that week will last a lifetime,” Pearson said.

“We learned about our profession, a little about each other, and a lot about ourselves as we rode those 160 miles.”

Lowe also said the memorial ride is something that will stick with her for the rest of her life.

“This ride really put things into perspective. Those in EMS have their lives on the line every day, yet they press on day after day answering the call for help,” Lowe said. “It was a very moving and meaningful experience that I am so thankful I got to be a part of.”

For Sides, the memorial further affirmed her career choice within EMS.

“Our journey proves that we are a tight-knit group who would do anything to help or save another and honor those who were able to give back,” Sides said.

“Being part of the memorial service solidifies my place in EMS. There is nothing else I would rather be doing.”

To contact Morgan Beard, email

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