ESCANABA - This has been a difficult week to stay on task. It has been a reality check on the fragility of life, one for which you can never be prepared.
Venetia Bryers, co-founder and CEO of Rampart EMS, Inc., of Delta County and the person responsible for bringing advanced life support ambulance services to the central Upper Peninsula, has passed away.
Many of you already know that my main employment is as a paramedic for Rampart. I have been there since hired as a basic EMT 17 years ago. Venetia, or "Vin" as we called her, was my instructor when I enrolled into the paramedic training program.
Since then, she has not only been my boss, Vin was a colleague, a consummate professional and genuine friend.
It has been from her leadership that I find myself now having the ability to deal with other daily crisis and continue in a positive spirit, working for the good of others. It was her ability to motivate that brought together a very diverse group of people that now makes up the family of Rampart EMS.
While it is extremely sad to say goodbye, I feel it important to once again lean on her attributes in keeping my focus on what to do from here, and carry forward on our mission here on earth.
While Vin's life was EMS, she had an appreciation for the interests of others. Mine of course is to be outdoors.
At times, when things were a little tense and she was working to keep minds from wondering, it was a pleasure to interject important statistical points of interest such as how many days remained until deer hunting season.
Her usual response was a quick roll of the eyes and stern reminder of the issue at hand, followed by her turning away so I wouldn't see the smile on her face.
She also coached me and provided some mind tools that enable me to keep my composure in a crisis.
Having known each other since high school age, Vin remembered my earlier years and adrenaline pumping (or as my father used to call it) "bull in a china shop" personality.
She taught me a technique of taking one step forward and two steps back. It is a means of reassessing; to see where I am in any given situation and use whatever action appropriate to have a positive outcome.
Although there is still room for improvement (just ask my co-workers), I find myself using this tool on a daily basis and it helps me immensely.
Venetia was tough and could handle emotional problems, especially those realized when no medical skill or corrective measure could change the outcome of a crisis. Yet her vulnerable side would periodically emerge, most often unexpectedly, demonstrating her soft tender side.
Last year, after hearing me talk about the ongoing Wildlife, Predator, Prey and Habitat Study being conducted by Mississippi State University and the MDNRE, she wanted to observe the research in the field, especially the newborn wildlife.
Vin was not a fan of navigating through the woods in the freezing cold and dimly lit early mornings of February, but did, so she could see the process from start to finish and capture some of the analysis on film.
She marveled at the adaptive use of modern technology, like portable ultrasound and other procedures of today, compared to how things used to be done in the earlier days of wildlife research.
Venetia had every intension of continuing to follow the program though the entire year, until she learned the probable mortality outcome of many of the species of newborn wildlife.
By her own admission, it was too much for her to see.
I could go on and on with anecdotal testimony of Vin, especially how she pioneered field medicine for rural EMS, but time and space will not allow it here. My best heartfelt testimonial of Venetia Bryers could be summed by the words of Theodore Roosevelt and his description of "A Man (or Woman in this case) In The Trenches:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled; or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; who's face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasm; the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails by daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
It is my hope that the passionate spirit of Venetia Bryers remains with all those who knew her, and is presented to and then carried forward by those who we touch down the road.
Thanks for being part of my life Vin. God speed!
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.