EMS industry leader Mike Smith dies at 61

The much-loved EMS speaker and educator died of a heart attack

The EMS community lost one of its contemporaries on Sunday, Oct. 13 when industry leader Mike Smith, chair of the Tacoma Community College EMS program and a well-known EMS speaker, died of a heart attack in his home.

Sources say Mike was transported by EMS from his home to a local hospital where he succumbed to a myocardial infarction. He was 61 years old.

Mike was a prolific writer and presenter. His leadership in EMS education was well known and he served as a role model to many new EMS professionals and instructors. He wrote articles for JEMS and EMS magazines, lectured at EMS conferences through the USA and Canada, and wrote for textbooks.

Mike Smith as the keynote speaker at EMS World 2011
Mike Smith as the keynote speaker at EMS World 2011

He was renowned as a ‘giant’ in the community for both his physical size and his larger-than-life personality.

From a tribute we published by his good friend John Sinclair, Mike began his career as a firefighter in Harvey, Ill., and become one of the first paramedics in the early 1970’s. From the south side of Chicago, he moved to Iowa to teach, and then settled in Washington to take over Tacoma Community College’s paramedic program.

He is survived by his wife Sylvia and two grown children, as well as a new granddaughter. 

Funeral information

Mike’s memorial service is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. at the University Place Presbyterian Church, in University Place, Wash.

Mike’s family has asked for help collecting photos of Mike for a slide show they are preparing for the service. A longer slide show will run post-service. They can use whatever you have, but Sylvia says she’d particularly like anything lighthearted. Please send photos to: Teresa@McCallion.biz

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Mike Smith Paramedic Scholarship Fund, at Tapco Credit Union, 6312 – 19th Street W., Tacoma, WA  98466.

For those traveling from out of town, hotel recommendations include: 

  • Courtyard Marriott in downtown Tacoma ($149/night posted rate)
  • Holiday Inn Express on Hosmer St. in Tacoma ($101/night)

Local fire department personnel are providing transportation to and from the airport and the service. If you need a ride, call Russ McCallion or Carla Vigna at East Pierce Fire and Rescue, 253-863-1800.

Don’t forget to share memories and stories about Mike on www.lifestory.com.

About the author

Art Hsieh, MA, NRP teaches in Northern California at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. An EMS provider since 1982, Art has served as a line medic, supervisor and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook writer, author of "EMT Exam for Dummies," has presented at conferences nationwide and continues to provide direct patient care regularly. Art is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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