Local paramedic honored for her lifesaving efforts
YOUNGSTOWN — About a year ago, an 81-year-old man walked from the parking lot to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital’s dental clinic for an appointment, but never expected his routine to be so dramatically interrupted, altered and detoured.
“He went into cardiac arrest, so I shocked him a few times,” remembered Lorie Burton, a local American Medical Response paramedic and field training officer who began her career as an emergency medical technician. “I gave him additional care as he went into the emergency room.”
Within days, he returned home with no neuro deficits or cardiac damage.
For her lifesaving efforts on the man who had suffered an apparent heart attack, Burton, 47, was recently awarded the American Ambulance Association’s prestigious 2020 Stars of Life Award. She also was recognized for her years of service in the profession.
Burton, a 1991 Sharpsville (Pa.) High School graduate, was one of about 100 recipients nationwide of the award. Burton added that she has yet to meet the man whose life she saved in July 2019.
That was not her only lifesaving effort, however. Burton recently recalled having administered care to a wanted fugitive who, days earlier, had shot at her then-husband, a Youngstown police officer, as he drove his cruiser.
On March 30, 2016, Youngstown police tried to stop Luis Cruz-Ramos as he drove a white van near Midlothian Boulevard on the South Side after they learned he was wanted on local warrants as well as one from Puerto Rico accusing him of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old in 2013. During the pursuit, he reportedly fired at the cruiser, striking the windshield.
About three days later, members of the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitives Task Force saw Cruz-Ramos walking near Lowell Avenue and Rush Boulevard on the South Side. A task force member shot him in the leg after police said they saw him carrying a weapon during the foot chase.
It wasn’t long after Cruz-Ramos’ arrest that Burton showed up.
“I cared for him by rendering emergency care for his leg” before he was taken to the hospital for his injury, she said.
Burton said she shelved her feelings and realized she had a job to perform, even though it was caring for the person who, days earlier, could have killed her husband. She also had a supervisor dispatched to the scene, Burton continued.
“I love what I do; I respect my job as much as possible and I respect myself,” she said, adding that Cruz-Ramos displayed no reaction after learning that the man he had shot at was her husband. “I said to him, ‘That’s OK. I forgive you.'”
Cruz-Ramos pleaded guilty to charges that included failure to comply, failure to register as a sex offender and 11 counts of felonious assault on a police officer, and was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.
In the early 1990s, before her lifesaving efforts, Burton attended Thiel College in Greenville, Pa., possibly to pursue a degree in accounting. For a short time, she also worked as a hairdresser, but discovered her true passion was to become an EMT and a paramedic.
“I just sort of fell into it,” said the mother of five sons.
Burton, who also assisted at ground zero in New York City soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, added that she is exploring the possibility of working in paramedicine, which in essence is the merging of public safety, health care and public health.
Specifically, that may entail taking her talents to parts of the city where medical resources are scarce, as well as doing what she can to ensure people are living in safe homes, she explained. Burton also wants to do what she can to help people keep their health care costs down, she said.
Whatever her decision, don’t look for this paramedic to slow down any time soon.
“I always feel like there’s more for me to see and do,” said Burton, who also praised her partner, Cal Kyle, for his work in advanced medicine.