Saturday, May 31, 2014
Lesley Easthan, 63, of Pleasant Hill has retired once. Then 30 days later, she came back to work.
A paramedic with Georgetown County Fire/EMS, she simply couldn't not work.
She has served Georgetown County for 23 years, beginning her career with Midway/Garden City 28 years ago.
Born in England to a British mother and American father, she arrived in the states at the age of 16. Her dad was stationed at Shaw AFB in Sumter.
Oh, and not only is she a paramedic, she is also a lieutenant in the fire department.
“Four or five years ago the department went fire/EMS so we all are both firefighters and EMS,” she explained.
At a mere 85 pounds, she hardly looks like she can manage the heavy gear a firefighter suits up in. But her attitude supplies the missing pounds.
“If you're gonna do it, I'm gonna do it,” is her mantra to her male colleagues. And they know it's true, she says.
She can suit up and run upstairs carrying 300 pounds,
Many male firefighters struggle with that.
Easthan has mastered it all: first responder, firefighter, EMT, EMS and paramedic.
She is also an LPN, certified instructor in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Trauma, has mastered high rise rescue (ropes, pulleys, rappelling the side of a building, etc.) confined space rescue, pump ops, extrication and she teaches CPR to all the high schools, restaurants and day care centers in the region.
She teaches stroke awareness, does drug and alcohol testing including Field Sobriety Testing for SCDOT and blood draws for drugs and alcohol testing for area companies.
Oh yeah, she is also a single mother who raised five children.
As a single parent, she said she used to bring her kids to training when she was a volunteer.
Although she graduated from high school in England, she had to get her GED in the states. She graduated from nursing school as an LPN but was frustrated because LPNs have to ask permission to do everything.
“You can't make a decision,” she explains, “you have to ask every step…and I was claustrophobic being inside.”
Although she doesn't like awards, she says, she does admit to being named Paramedic of the Year last year.
Her worst experiences are those with pediatrics she said.
Her best is using the STEMI protocol, where she can watch on a heart monitor a patient's improvement from her treatment.
“Oh, and deliveries,” she adds. “All day, every day, I find something new [to experience].”
She said people will come up to her in the store, hug her and thank her saying things like “my dad is ding so much better!”
“There are always pros and cons but in this job the pros are so much better!”
Her professional goal, she said, is to stay working on community awareness.
When she isn't working her 24/48 shift, and her husband James Easthan, a lieutenant firefighter/medic with Pleasant Hill, isn't working, they run a 20-acre farm.
“We see each other on Thursdays,” she laughs.
Her children Tammy, Karen, Sandra and Shawn are parents to her six grandchildren – Daniel, Danielle, Savannah, David, McKinlie and ZoŽ.
On her farm she boasts goats, a miniature mule, geese, ducks, chickens, rabbits, an elderly tortoise, a potbelly pig, two cats and one beagle. Oh and a number of “tame” squirrels that she rescued as infants and dropper fed.
“They won't leave.”
Her life hasn't been easy. When she was 28, her then husband's truck blew up burning 80 percent of her body. She spent two years in MUSC, one as an outpatent. She has had countless surgeries to repair her face, neck and arm. In fact, she wears her watch on her right arm so she can't forget and try to take a pulse with that hand. It has no feeling. Doctors thought they would have to amputate her arm, she says, but instead they were able to use nylon webbing and skin grafts from her legs, to rebuild it.
“It has pushed me and motivated me,” she said of her injury.
When she and her husband aren't tending to the menagerie at home, they enjoy riding motorcycles.
“But I am really a homebody,” she said.
Her one cause is David's Blanket of Hope. She makes fleece blankets that the organization gives to NICUs at area hospitals and any family that needs them. They have even ended up as far away as Australia, she said. The blankets, of which the organization has made and given 590 to date, are for children with life-threatening illnesses.
She hates shopping, “can be Susi-Homemaker when I have to,” enjoys cutting wood and “making stuff” and sometimes going to her grand son David's Karate Club.
The rest of her grandchildren live far away, she said.
She does enjoy gardening both vegetable and flower.
When asked about her life goal, she responded, after some thought, “I've got everything I ever wanted. All my bills are paid, I have my garden, all animals come to my house.”
“When I got burned my goal was to get back and not whine and cry. Determination is my mantra.”