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May 16, 2011

Alabama EMS answered calls during, after storms


CULLMAN, Ala. — Even while their building was crumbling around them, the Cullman EMS never missed a call and fulfilled the job they pledged to do: save the city of Cullman.

"The day started out pretty hectic. We were really worried about Hanceville, and had a lot of our units already there in Hanceville. Little did we know, that just a few hours later that we would be dealing with Cullman as well," says Jerry Sellers, the director for the ambulance drivers. While his department was busy saving lives on April 27th, they came under fire themselves.

Jamie Barber was working as a dispatcher that day. She was in the basement when the EMS building fell in the path of the tornado. "It was scary. I was thankful all our employees made it down there that were in the area. We were kind of rushed trying to get back upstairs to make sure we didn't miss anything," she says. Sellers says he was worried about the safety of his co-workers, so he headed to the building. Water was pouring in and debris was everywhere he says.

Even with their own building falling around them, the Cullman EMS overcame the storm and never waivered in their duties.

"We never missed a call, didn't miss a beat, dispatch picked right up where it left off as soon as we got back up there. It went real well, considering our building was torn up around us."

For now, the Cullman EMS building is an abandoned car lot. Even though they're survivors of one of the worst storms in U.S. history, Barber and the rest of Seller's team remains unphased.

"It's just part of being a paramedic. It's just how it works. We're here to serve other people, so that's what we do," she says.

The Cullman EMS motto is, "When seconds count, count on us." On April 27, 2011 they lived up to that motto.

Reprinted with permission from WIAT.