State honors former Milan EMT

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

A chance meeting between a former Milan EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and a member of the State Emergency Medical Services Commission, set the wheels in motion for the EMT to receive recognition she never expected.

Irene Godsey was honored Friday, July 17 in Batesville at a meeting of the State Emergency Medical Services Commission for her years of dedicated service as an EMT in Milan.

The plaque read, “The State of Indiana Emergency Medical Service Commission hereby awards honorary lifetime EMT to Mary Irene Godsey in recognition of your service to the EMS community and the citizens of Milan, Indiana. We salute and honor your dedication to excellence and commitment.”

Godsey had met Myron Mackey, EMS commission member in Bicknell while attending a funeral. “We had never met before,” she told The Versailles Republican. But, when they met and she found out about his involvement with emergency medical services, there was an immediate bond. Godsey told him her story. Mackey listened and then he acted by nominating her for the award.

Godsey lost her 16-year-old son, Bobby, in a vehicle accident in 1963. Remembering the night like it was yesterday, Godsey said everyone was so excited about winning the sectional. The kids were going to a celebration when the roadway, which had been snow covered earlier, froze over. Her son and his friend, John Thompson, were killed when their vehicle hit a patch of ice and one lone tree on that roadway.

The tragic loss of her son and his friend, began Godsey’s journey in the world of EMS. Charlie Moore of Laws-Carr-Moore Funeral Home in Milan knows the story well. “She came to me and said, ‘Hey, Charlie, if I can ever do anything to help you, let me know.’”

As was the practice in the early 60’s, Moore used his hearse for dual purpose - for funerals, and for emergency medical runs. “But, things were changing,” Moore told The Versailles Republican, saying the state was bringing new rules about transports and how medical services should be handled.

Godsey felt if the service we have today with EMTs and paramedics was in place at the time of her son’s accident, he might not have died. She felt she had to do something to prevent other parents from feeling her loss.

Together, Charlie and wife Janet Moore and Godsey formed the first rescue squad in Milan in 1976. The three went through the training to become EMTs. Moore remembers the first meeting where Godsey rounded up 30 people to help make the squad a vital part of the community she had been born and raised in.

According to Moore, Godsey worked tirelessly, never losing sight of the goal - to make sure the best possible emergency medical care was given.

Godsey worked at Steinmetz Insurance in Milan. “That was back in the day before there were pagers and cell phones,” laughed Moore. The insurance company had a private phone for Godsey to take emergency calls. She was allowed to leave at a moment’s notice and she did. Moore said when he and his wife had a funeral or had to leave town, Godsey was the lone ranger. “She is an outstanding person,” he noted, “someone you could always depend on.”

In a letter read by Jason Smith, EMS District Manager for Homeland Security, Mackey had written that Godsey “embodied the true spirit of why people become EMTs.” This was written by Mackey when nominating Godsey for the award. She was honored for “unselfishly serving her community.”

“I was so excited (about the award),” Godsey told The Versailles Republican. She said this was definitely the highlight of her EMT career. “It’s something I never expected.” Godsey and husband John now live in Lawrenceburg.

Although Godsey has long shelved her EMT ‘hat’, the 80-year-old is still active - volunteering at the Dearborn County Hospital. The couple has a daughter, Dottie Blackwell, two grandsons, Rob and John Blackwell and now a great grandson, Nolan Blackwell. “We moved to Lawrenceburg 20 years ago to help our daughter with her children,” Godsey noted, “They’re both grown up now,” she laughed.

Godsey received a standing ovation from the group of over 100 at the Batesville Primary School on Friday as she tearfully accepted the framed certificate giving her honorary lifetime EMT status.

Ripley County and in particular, Milan, is fortunate to have volunteers such as Godsey and the Moores. Through the dedication and perseverance of volunteers the county has a system in place that saves lives.

Irene Godsey is pictured with the plaque honoring her service to the EMT community by Jason Smith, EMS District Manager, Homeland Security, on Friday, July 17 at the Batesville Primary School. She received a standing ovation with over 100 in attendance at the state meeting. The former Milan native now resides with husband, John, in Lawrenceburg and still volunteers at the Dearborn County Hospital.