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"I breathed paramedic all my life": How tragedy inspired a woman to become a paramedic

Darlene Poole trained countless other EMTs and paramedics during her 30 year career. (Image: Bob Williams)

A paramedic who has made a difference in hundreds of lives is honored for decades of service.

Tuesday, Hamilton County EMS held a retirement party for Darlene Poole.

For the past 30 years, she's made it her mission to educate as many people as possible about CPR and saving lives.

Lt. David Burdett says by doing that, she's saved countless lives.

"Those people helped somebody else so it's exponential in terms of the people that she's touched both directly and indirectly," Lt. Burdett said.

What inspired her to teach others was tragedy.

When she was a teenager, Darlene lost her father to a heart attack.

"I told our neighbor at the time, I don't know what you call the people in the back of those ambulances but one day I'm going to be one," she said.

She made it her mission to put defibrillators in local businesses.

It's a newer technology that wasn't around when her dad died.

"To know that just a lei person could take an AED and defribilate somebody that's in cardiac arrest ever before the ambulance ever shows up, they have saved a bunch of lives," Poole said.

Now, after 30 years, Darlene is ready for a change of pace.

Her friends and co-workers say Hamilton County EMS won't ever be the same.

"They may find someone else to take the position but they'll never find another Darlene," her friend and former co-worker Debbie Cox said.

Darlene says she took a new job at Chattannoga State with their EMT program.

She also wants to spend more time doing estate sales, something she really enjoys.

Hamilton County EMS says they haven't found Darlene Poole's replacement yet.

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