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Not Just a Paycheck: EMT Instructor Stresses Need for Dedicated Workers

May 26, 2023


Mary Pilling started at Blackhawk more than 30 years ago as a CPR instructor. She also was a lab assistant in the EMT program. Now, she is an instructor in Public Safety, working with EMS students.

Mary wanted to help her community and saw a need for EMS personnel. Starting as a first responder in her hometown of South Wayne, she became an EMT and has worked for Green County EMS since 1985. She continues to work as a Critical Care Paramedic two days a week and received the Member of the Year award for Green County EMS earlier this month.

“I feel it is important to be active in the field you are teaching, so being a paramedic that is active in the EMS profession and working actively in the field helps me work with the students,” she said.

Starting out as a volunteer, Mary has seen EMS become more of a profession, giving people the ability to work full-time for both private and public services. That said, there’s still a shortage of workers.

For students thinking of joining the EMS field, Mary cautions them to be serious about working in the medical profession. Even entry-level positions require a lot of hard work and time dedicated to studying. Beyond the books, there also are key skills students need, including critical thinking, problem solving, communication and empathy. 

“It's the ability to help people when they are having the worst day of their lives,” she said.

Mary and her husband, Steve, have four daughters and eight grandchildren, who keep them busy with competitive dance, wrestling, softball, baseball, soccer and fair projects. When they have time, Mary and Steve also enjoy golfing and traveling.

For more information on Blackhawk’s EMT program, go to

National EMS Week is observed from May 15-21. In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS practitioners and the important work they do in our nation's communities.

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