June 11, 2003 --
Madras paramedic Bob Ervin, who died in the line of duty Jan. 1, 2002, was among 16 emergency workers from nine states honored at the National Emergency Medical Services Memorial Service May 24, in Roanoke, Va.
Ervin, 43, was killed while responding to an accident south of Madras, when a semi truck lost control on the icy, foggy road and struck him.
His wife Marian Ervin, a registered nurse at Mountain View Hospital, traveled to the ceremony, escorted by Don Heckathorn of Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services, nurse Suzi Bean, and Gina Burnett, a friend of both Marian and Bob. Bob's stepbrother Donald and his wife Jackie were also among the 750 EMS providers and family members from across the nation attending the event.
"It was bittersweet, but very honorable; a memory to Bob's dedication to his profession," Marian said of the ceremony.
The day began with a two-mile procession from Hotel Roanoke, where the families were staying, to The Rescue Museum, which tells the history of EMS and has exhibits of lifesaving tools and technology, from the "iron lung" to present-day devices.
A bus carrying family members led the procession, followed by 200 to 300 bicyclists, who had ridden some 850 miles from Boston in honor of the event, and ending with 200 rescue vehicles from New York, Boston, New Hampshire, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, and other states.
The Rescue Museum also houses a "Tree of Life," which bears the names of honored emergency workers engraved on individual brass oak leaves as a permanent memorial.
At the end of the procession, family members toured the museum, viewing the wall-sized Tree of Life last. "There were 252 previous names and the 16 new ones were added to the tree. They chose an oak leaf to signify strength," Marian said.
"It was very emotional seeing his picture on the wall beside the tree," she said, noting pictures and a brief biography of the 16 new honorees are displayed for a year before being placed in a book.
She said it was also very inspirational to see how many personnel had died while on duty, and how they had died. Three had heart attacks, seven perished in the attack on the World Trade Center, two died in helicopter crashes, one in an ambulance crash, one from a gunshot wound, and one other man, like Bob, died when he was struck by an out of control truck.
She said she appreciated the work of the National EMS and had gotten to meet the committee members who put in countless hours of work to continue the National EMS Memorial every year.
During the evening's ceremony, honor guardsmen carried in flags from each of the nine states represented, and Oregon's state flag was carried by the New York Fire Department Honor Guard.
Marian was formally presented with an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol, a white rose signifying love of others, and a medallion representing her husband's eternal memory.
She intends to put the flag in a case and make a shadow box to hold the National EMS medal along with the Meritorious Award medal Bob received from the Oregon State EMS organization.
"I'll possibly put the flag at our little cabin in Camp Sherman. That was Bob's favorite place to be," she said.