Salute the Badge: Local EMS manager gives back to community and veterans

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
September 18, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- For some people, a telephone ring is just a ring. But for Chief Mac Kemp of Leon County EMS, it means someone's in danger.

"Most people, when they think of EMS, they think of when they have to call the ambulance or when they see us driving down the road with our sirens," Kemp explained. "We are, EMT is, much more than that."

He would know; Kemp's been responding to emergencies for more than four decades, the last 15 years with Leon County.

"We deal with people that are sick or lonely or having mental health issues," Kemp elaborated. "Or all different kinds of problems."

He got his start as a student at Tallahassee Community College.

"I was in a class that was a required health class and the instructor said, 'You'd be good in my EMT class,'" he remembered. "I didn't even know what EMT was at the time."

It was a memory of his grandmother that made him give it a try.

"My grandmother always wanted me to go into medicine and I thought, 'Well, let me see what this is all about.' So, I took the class and I kind of fell in love with it," Kemp said.

Fast forward 41 years: Kemp is now in charge of quality management for the entire agency.

"We see people at their worst and we try and give them a little bit of control back on the way to the hospital so they can begin to heal and rebuild their lives. That's really a privilege," he said.

When Kemp's not doing that, he continues to serve by coordinating Honor Flight Tallahassee, where he's the chair and founder of the local chapter.

"We started seven years ago, with the backing of Leon County and Leon County Commissioners who wanted to serve veterans better," he said.

The group takes veterans on a free one-day trip to see the memorials in Washington, D.C.

"Most of the veterans tell us that no one has told them thank you for the services they provided, all of the sacrifices to keep us free," Kemp said.

Whether he's thanking veterans for their service or saving lives, Kemp says helping people is the biggest reward.

"I've kind of come to a realization over the years that it's the small things we do, one by one, one patient at a time, that really makes a difference in people's lives," he said.

For his decades of commitment to public service and love for veterans, we salute Chief Mac Kemp.

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