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Valley paramedics work to save one of their own

Date: 6/9/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM -- Kathy Cormier of Agawam has dedicated her life's work to medicine and human service, but all that changed for the 25-year paramedic just six weeks ago when she was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

The news shocked her co-workers at American Medical Response (AMR) and propelled them into action. The Kathy Cormier Benefit will take place on June 14 at the Elks Lodge in Springfield.

"[Kathy's] 25 years of dedicated Emergency Medical Service is an enormous accomplishment," Patrick Leonardo, lead operations supervisor and safety coordinator at AMR, said. "Kathy has been a great mentor and inspiration to many of us in Western Mass. and reminds us all the true reason why we entered our emergency medical service careers, to make a difference by caring for people in need."

He added that EMS is not "a job for the young at heart ... seeking out adrenaline rushes, excitement and heroism" -- rather, it's a job "which comes with a quick burnout rate" and is only for those truly dedicated to the cause.

Bea Bates, a paramedic at AMR, described Cormier as the embodiment of the aforementioned EMS professional.

"She's not only my partner [on the job], she's my best friend," Bates said. "She's the nicest and most generous person I know."

Nancy Morrissey, communications manager at AMR, agreed.

"She's an excellent caregiver and good friend," Morrissey said. "[Kathy] always has a smile on her face."

She added that those at AMR have not set a financial goal for the benefit, instead pioneering a mission of lasting community and friendship for Cormier.

"We just wanted to put something together for her to show her that we're supporting her financially and emotionally," Morrissey said.

The Kathy Cormier Benefit will take place on June 14 from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 440 Tiffany St., Springfield.

The cost is $15 per person and all children under the age of eight are free. All proceeds will help to offset Cormier's medical costs. Tickets will be sold at the door.

The evening's festivities will include a DJ, food, a cash bar, Chinese raffle, 50-50 raffle and a chance to win a four-pack of Red Sox tickets. Those interested in donating food, raffle items or cash may contact Bates at 348-5950 or Kathy Haniffy at 846-6126.

For additional information, contact Leonardo at 846-6123, Morrissey at 846-6125 or Celeste Kinney at 330-1418.