Paramedic lived beyond call of duty
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Friday, September 14, 2012
9/14/12 at 4:48 AM
"Paramedics can fly. I am proof."
That was how Lisa Alexander amusingly summed it up.
Writing those words on a note, she attached it to her uniform shirt, which she then hung up at Tulsa EMSA's office for everyone to see.
For her colleagues, though, just seeing Alexander back - as always, smiling, laughing and giving out hugs - was the best part of it.
A few days earlier, the paramedic, who had more than three decades of experience, had been working a traffic accident in Tulsa when she was hit by a car.
Knocked off her feet, she didn't allow the pain and shock to stop her.
"She got right up and continued to care for her patient," her supervisor, James Postoak, said.
Alexander took a few days off work to recover; luckily, she suffered only bumps and bruises.
No one who knew her had been surprised by her actions.
"Being a paramedic was her dream," her former partner Kelby Nichols said. "Lisa just loved to help people."
It went beyond the call of duty, he added.
As reported recently in the Tulsa World, Alexander and Nichols were presented the national Star of Life award in May for rescuing a local nurse who had become trapped in her vehicle in rising floodwaters.
Alexander died Sept. 6 of a likely heart attack. She was 49.
A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Sept. 21 at Asbury United Methodist Church under the direction of Floral Haven Funeral Home of Broken Arrow.
In August 2011, Alexander and Nichols were leaving St. John Medical Center on a call when they saw a car, with the driver still inside, trapped in rising floodwater.
Although not trained or equipped for water rescues, they knew they had to act and, improvising with a medical backboard, were able to get the occupant out.
For their life-saving actions, the pair were recognized with a national honor in May, as they joined 70 other EMS professionals from around the country in Washington, D.C., for the Stars of Life Celebration.
A native of Kaufman, Texas, Alexander had dreamed of being a paramedic as a child, inspired by the 1970s television show "Emergency!"
She moved to Tulsa about 10 years ago and had been employed with EMSA since 2008.
She had worked in just about every area of her profession, including as a flight medic and in intensive care.
In 1985 in Dallas, she was one of the first paramedics on the scene of the Delta Flight 191 crash that killed nearly 140 people.
Probably the most experienced paramedic on EMSA's staff, Alexander was like a second mother to the younger paramedics and EMTs, Nichols said.
New EMSA hires, who often were from out of state and without relatives nearby, could count on Alexander to invite them to her home for holidays.
Her motherly concerns also extended to her patients.
"Sometimes we'd be out in the middle of the night on a scene, one that involved 16-, 17-year-old kids," Nichols said. "She'd say to me, 'I think I need to be the mother in this situation for a little bit.' And she'd go and talk to them."
Said Postoak: "And no matter how many calls she had in a day, or if she had to work late because we were so busy, she always had a smile on her face."
Alexander met her husband, Mike Alexander, an emergency room nurse, in the ER at St. John, where he worked previously.
He began talking to her every time she dropped off patients.
One day, as he was walking her out to her ambulance after a dropoff, he suddenly proposed.
"It was kind of spontaneous," he said. "It just came out - right there in the ER drive."
The couple married and enjoyed two happy years together, he said.
Nichols, who now works in dispatch, said Alexander was his first and only partner.
"She taught me so much," he said. "Most of all, to treat every person with respect."
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Lisa Alexander: The EMSA paramedic and her former partner Kelby Nichols received the national Star of Life award in May for rescuing a local nurse who had become trapped in her vehicle in rising floodwaters. The pair were recognized with 70 other EMS professionals from around the country in Washington, D.C