When I hear the word decade it seems like a long time. When I think that is has been 10 years since Ed P. Hammons died it seems like yesterday and like an eternity. I think he would be a little embarrassed that we are honoring him again, so long after his passing. He was a man who did the right thing for the right reasons, not to get recognition or glory.
He was a man from a small Arkansas town who wanted to make a difference. Having seen what combat medics were doing in Viet Nam, when he came back to Forrest City, AR after serving in the military he decided U.S. citizens at home should get that same cutting edge care before they reached the hospital. Dr. E. P. Hammons, who just referred to himself as “Hammons”, was one of a kind.
- was called the Father of AR EMS.
- worked to get legislation passed so that paramedics could function in the field.
- started the paramedic school at East AR Community College and served as it’s medical director until his death.
- was proud of EMS, and of the graduates he had taught.
- worked for the greater good.
- put himself on the line to bring about positive change.
- was a physician, teacher, encourager, mentor, and friend.
And he was more. He left a legacy that has continued and will continue. Every student he taught carried part of him with them on every run. To every partner his graduates taught, to every third rider they had, to every student they taught in the classroom his graduates passed along a little of bit of Hammons.
Those of us who were lucky enough to have known him and fortunate enough to have learned from him carry him with us every day. It shows in respect for other people. It shows in the unending demand for excellence. It shows in who we have become.
As with any good friend who passes on, I will always miss Hammons. But I am grateful. It was a terrible hurt when he died, and while writing this the pain still seems fresh. But as the song says, “I wouldn’t have missed the dance” for anything.