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‘You have to want to help people': Pa. first responder says service is the foundation for her several roles

Paramedic Rachel Brady finds multiple ways to help others as medic, flight nurse and diver


Paramedic, flight nurse and diver Rachel Brady

Cambria County Swift Water Rescue Team/Facebook

By Patrick Buchnowski
The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — When dozens of kids filled the pool at Greater Johnstown Community YMCA for a water safety and drowning prevention event, Rachel Brady was there.

Brady, 26, is a paramedic with Jackson Township and a member of the Cambria County Swift Water Rescue Team and the Jackson-East Taylor Dive Team. She also is a MedStar flight nurse at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

Brady returned from her honeymoon in time to join the May 18 event, called “Y Drown? Keep Your Head Above Water.” She is committed to helping families stay safe, she said.

“We had the rescue boat out, educating kids on what we would do if somebody fell into the water,” she said. “Teaching kids to be comfortable with wearing a life jacket and being in the water was a great experience.”

Brady graduated from Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg. She attended St. Francis University in Loretto, where she studied nursing. She is married to Richland Township firefighter Timothy Meyers.

It’s hard to find people to work in emergency medical services, said Rickey Price, head of the Cambria County Swift Water Rescue Team, who considers himself fortunate to have Brady on the team.

“On the water rescue side, police, fire, nobody wants to do this job,” he said. “Finding someone like her, having as much caring and drive as she does, is amazing.”

For Brady, helping the community is in her DNA. Her father, Bill Brady, is a nurse anesthetist at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center. Her mother, Theresa Brady, is a nurse in the United School District in the Armagh area of Indiana County. She has a grandmother who is a retired nurse in Ebensburg.

“It’s a whole line of nurses,” Rachel Brady said. “Growing up, my dad would bring me around the fire department, and I loved all the people. They became my family and best friends.”

Helping a hurting community is what emergency services is all about, she said. Whether it’s cardiac incidents, car wrecks on the highway, water rescues, or rushing to house fires, emergency responders are there.

“You have to want to help people, " she said. “You have to be willing to do it. Not everybody wants that.”

Brady has been a flight nurse since January. MedStar is part of Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center’s Level 1 Regional Resource Trauma Center.

When flying a patient from Johnstown to Pittsburgh, time is critical.

“We can take off from Conemaugh and be at ( UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh ) in 20 minutes,” she said. “It can get crazy some days, but it’s neat going in the back of a helicopter.”

Jackson Township fire Chief Scott Emerson has worked closely with Brady. He called her knowledgeable and professional.

“She’s always happy,” he said. “She brings a calming effect to any situation. She’s one of a kind, that’s for sure.”

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