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EMS community in ‘complete mourning’ over death of longtime paramedic

Terry Snodgrass, 57, was well-known and beloved in the EMS field

By Kara Berg
Belleville News-Democrat

Terry Snodgrass loved being a paramedic.

He was a great teacher with a big heart, said Steve Niemeier, Snodgrass’ best friend. He might have looked intimidating at first, but once you got to know him, he was just a big teddy bear.

With nothing but confidence on medical runs, Snodgrass used his experience to teach “anyone who would listen to him,” Niemeier said.

“He’s one of the strongest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Niemeier said. “And he’s one of the best paramedics I’ve ever worked with.”

That sentiment was echoed in the days after his death by those who knew him and worked with him.

Snodgrass, who was 57 when he died in his home in Collinsville on Friday, was well-known and loved in the emergency medical service field. Even after he lost a leg in a motorcycle accident four years ago, he fought through it. He had to stop working at Abbott Ambulance Service, but he never stopped loving the job.

Snodgrass’ passion for his work transferred over to those he taught, as well. He didn’t panic during tough calls, and as a supervisor for young paramedics, he knew how to keep them cool and collected during the early stages of their careers.

He was Angie Heider’s favorite supervisor as she made her way through school. He had a way, she said, of teaching students without them knowing they were being taught.

“When we had stressful calls, sometimes you can’t regroup, and Terry had a way of making it so much easier for you,” Heider said. “He never got stressed out or overwhelmed on a call, and he knew how to teach without you being stressed.”

She added, “He’s going to truly be missed. The EMS community is in complete mourning over this.”

And for those he worked with, no matter their experience, his confidence and skill at the job shone through. Frank Cantone, one of Snodgrass’s former partners at Abbot Ambulance Services, said during bad storms in the area in 2006, Snodgrass kept him calm out on the truck, even as reports of tornadoes touching down came through the scanners.

“He said ‘No, don’t worry, we’ll be safe,’” Cantone said. “I’ll never forget that day because I was scared, but Terry wasn’t, and his confidence that he had — not only with patients he took care of, but with his partners — it made me feel comfortable and made me feel safe.”

When Cantone found out Snodgrass had died, he said it “tore a huge part of me out.” Of Cantone’s 20 years spent in EMS, Snodgrass was one of the few partners he remembered.

“Pretty good is an understatement,” he said. “This guy was an awesome medic. He was top of the line.”

Copyright 2017 Belleville News-Democrat