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W.Va. Ambulance Authority Names First Female Captain

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the first time in its 35-year history, the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority has a female captain.

Kim Shanklin, 45, of Holly Grove, was promoted to the rank of captain on March 18. Ambulance authority members held a ceremony Wednesday recognizing Shanklin and the nine others who received promotions.

Shanklin has been employed at the ambulance authority since 1986. She started out as an emergency medical technician and worked her way up through the ranks over the years.

"I love my job," she said. "I love helping people and working with people."

She will now act as a shift supervisor, but plans on responding to calls when she can to keep her skills sharp.

Along with helping people who are in dire need of assistance, Shanklin said the camaraderie in the department also kept her coming back to work.

She acknowledged that working for the ambulance authority was a "hard job," and that she often saw people who were in dire straights. But, she always worked through the tough times, she said.

"There are calls that make you think about quitting," she said. "But, when I can't cry with a family then I know it's time to retire."

"And the happy moments always make up for all the sad moments," Shanklin said.

Shanklin is now one of four captains at the authority. Executive Director Joe Lynch called Shanklin a hard worker who deserved the promotion. He said he was also pleased to see that a female had finally been promoted to the rank.

"This makes me feel real good," Lynch said.

Shanklin said it was an honor to be named the first female captain in the Ambulance Authority's history. She said that she always knew if she worked hard enough that she could attain the rank.

Shanklin's brother, Steve Nelson, 40, of Charleston, attended Wednesday's recognition ceremony. He said he was very proud of his sister.

"She deserved it," he said.

Shanklin went through the same process everyone must pass before getting a promotion, Lynch said. She had to submit her resume and then the other captains in the department interviewed her.

She also submitted to a peer interview, Lynch said.

Lynch said Shanklin would have typically been an anomaly because she has worked for the authority for about 20 years. Prior to a recent legislative change about two years ago, employees with ambulance authorities around West Virginia were part of the state Public Employees Retirement System.

However, the Legislature changed the law, and ambulance authorities are now part of their own retirement system, Lynch said.

Emergency medical technicians and other employees at the authority would typically work for the agency for a few years until they finished their education and then they moved onto other positions. Most would find employment as nurses or in other fields, he said.

But the authority employees can now retire at the age of 50 if they have 20 years of service, he said. This encourages employees to stick with the authority.

"We wanted to thank the Kanawha County Commission because they pushed for that law change," he said.

But, Shanklin said she wouldn't have retired even if the change had not been made. She also plans on staying well beyond the age of 50.

"I plan on staying here," she said.



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