First responders have rallied together to support a longtime EMSA medic who is in the hospital with COVID-19.
Debbie Rusher has been a paramedic with EMSA in Tulsa for nearly 22 years. First responders met outside of Ascension St. John on Sunday to flash their lights and honor her.
"She is extremely well-respected among her colleagues. There is not a person in our system who hasn't been touched by Debbie's knowledge, Debbie's willingness to help, lend a hand, and Debbie's work attitude and her work ethic," said Adam Paluka, Chief Public Affairs Officer with EMSA.
There are around 200 medics with EMSA in the Tulsa area, but Paluka said everyone knows Rusher.
"She's just one of those exemplary medics who really does set the tone and set the example for what someone in the system could be," Paluka said.
Paluka said he wasn't surprised when Debbie's coworkers said they wanted to honor her by flashing their lights outside of the hospital. They gathered outside and prayed for her healing. Dana Pattison, Rusher’s sister, said this vigil meant so much to their family.
"It's just overwhelming, on how many people love her and respect her, and our family is just so grateful," Pattison said.
Pattison said Rusher is in the ICU and in critical condition, but they have seen improvements. She said Rusher is the strongest person she knows.
"I know she's fighting; I know she can feel the love and support," Pattison said.
Paluka said the EMSA team is a family, and they want Rusher to know they are with her every step of the way.
"We will never stop rooting for you, we will never stop praying for you, and we will never stop being a champion for the work you do in our community," he said.
Paluka said they are not sure if Debbie contracted COVID-19 while she was working. He said they currently have five other medics who are COVID-19 positive and quarantining.