Ohio family boasts 3 generations of EMS providers
Bob Smith, owner of Smith Ambulance, jokes that if someone in his family isn’t an EMT, “we can’t use you"
By Jon Baker
DOVER, Ohio — Bob Smith, owner of Smith Ambulance, jokes that if someone in his family isn't an EMT, "we can't use you."
Smith attended the first EMT class in the Dover-New Philadelphia area in 1972 and has been a paramedic since 1993. His son, Lt. Bobby Smith of the New Philadelphia Fire Department, is an EMT and a nurse. His daughter, Kelli Mossor, is a Smith Ambulance paramedic and a Dover school nurse. Her husband, Capt. Mike Mossor of the Dover Fire Department, is chief operations officer for Smith Ambulance and a paramedic. And Smith's granddaughter, Emily Mossor, is a second-year nursing student at Malone University who recently became an EMT.
"We're extremely proud that we have three generations of EMTs in our county, and I'm exceptionally proud that our family has chosen careers of service to other people," Bob Smith said. "We have firefighters, paramedics, nurses and we have a grandson in the police academy."
His grandson, Zachary Smith, is a recent graduate of Stark State College and is currently attending the police academy at the University of Akron.
The family's record of service began 49 years ago, right after Bob Smith graduated from high school. He went to work for the Toland-Herzig Funeral Home in Dover, running his first ambulance call on his first day on the job. At that time, funeral homes also provided ambulance services.
Things were much different then.
"We would drive 60 mph through town to the hospital with the lights and sirens on," Smith recalled. "It was not unusual that Union Hospital was locked at night and dark, so you had to go in and call for a nurse. A doctor would be on call at home. So they would bring the doctor in. You would break neck to get to the hospital and then you would have to wait."
The only medical equipment the ambulances carried was an oxygen bottle and a first aid kit.
After Smith completed his EMT training in 1972, his boss, Dick Herzig, bought a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff for his employees to use.
On his next call, Smith took the blood pressure of his patient and wrote it on a scrap of paper.
"I remember walking into the emergency room and I presented it," he said. "The patient's face was drawn, and I said, this lady is possibly having a stroke. Here's her blood pressure. The nurse went livid. She crumpled it up, threw it down and said, don't ever do that again. You're not doctors. This has to stop."
At that time, hospitals didn't want EMTs doing much. Now, hospitals value the work of EMTs, he said.
In 1983, Smith purchased what is now the Smith-Varns Funeral Home in Sugarcreek and continued to do some non-emergency work with a hearse/ambulance combination. Then the state began licensing private ambulance services in 1993, so he separated the ambulance service from the funeral home and opened a station in Dover.
Smith Ambulance expanded its service to New Philadelphia in 1999 and opened a station in Uhrichsville the same year. It is now the largest ambulance service and medical transportation provider in the area.
His son, Bobby, ran his first ambulance call with the funeral home in Sugarcreek. He became an EMT and was hired by the New Philadelphia Fire Department when he was 20. In 2008 he got his nursing degree and now works one day a week at an emergency room as an ER nurse.
"When you're young, it's all about how you really want to run the calls, and it's all kind about the rush," he said. "Then as you get older and you've got kids and as they grow up and you get to know other people's kids and people in the community, then it really is kind of about helping people. That becomes your No. 1 priority."
Smith's daughter, Kelli, took a basic EMT class right after she graduated from Dover High School in 1994. She graduated from nursing school and paramedic school in 1998. She knew she wanted to work with children, so she got a job at Akron Children's Hospital. For the past seven years, she has worked for Dover City Schools.
Her daughter, Emily, hopes to go to medic school.
"I had some pretty great role models to look up to with my grandpa, my uncle and my parents," she said. "I'm very excited for this new opportunity in my life."
Smith's son-in-law, Mike Mossor, worked for Smith Ambulance after he got out of the Air Force. He got hired on by the Dover Fire Department, but he didn't plan on staying long. His goal was to become a battalion chief in the Columbus Fire Department.
Instead, he remained in Dover and has been at the department for 26 years.
"All the people you meet along the way is the best part of the job, good people, bad people," Mossor said. "It's all interesting."
Having so many EMTs in the family makes holidays interesting, he said.
"It's pretty rare that all of us are there for the entire time," he said. "We can usually get together for a period of time, but somebody usually gets called away somewhere."
Copyright 2018 The Times-Reporter