Approximately 500 people gathered in a church in University Place, Washington on Oct. 21, to pay their final respects to Mike Smith, EMS educator, author, columnist and nationally-recognized speaker.
Prior to the service, Smith’s family entered the church through a cordon of more than 250 uniformed personnel from throughout the Pacific Northwest. Many were former students of the paramedic program Smith oversaw at Tacoma Community College. Other guests included EMS leaders from across the United States and Canada.
Smith died Oct. 13 of a myocardial infarction, just shy of his 61st birthday. He leaves behind his wife Sylvia, two adult daughters Valerie Smith and Melissa (Bill) Thurman and granddaughter Kate.
Eulogies by Kittitas Valley Fire Rescue Fire Chief John Sinclair; AMR Vice President of Clinical Practices and Research Scott Bourn, PhD, RN, EMT-P; and Director of EMS Associates, former EMS Coordinator for Seattle/King County EMS, Mike Helbock painted a picture of a man whose passion for life surpassed even his prodigious six-foot-six-inch frame. Whether it was EMS, fishing, bonsai trees, cooking, gardening or his deep love for his family, Smith was an enthusiastic connoisseur of life.
In spite of the presence of these practiced EMS presenters, Smith’s daughter Melissa outshined the professionals. Claiming to have never spoken before such a large group, Smith’s youngest daughter used slides from her father’s most memorable PowerPoint presentations to deliver an insightful, funny and touching tribute to her dad.
Ultimately and most emphatically, she said, Smith was a teacher, and it’s true that his professional career revolved around EMS instruction. Whether that was in the classroom, through the books he authored or in the many articles he wrote for national EMS publications, he was a passionate advocate of high-quality, compassionate patient care.
But the constant theme of Smith’s life was the way he connected with people. Making fun of his 1980s clip art and liberal use of fonts and colors—“None of you could’ve thrown the man a bone?”—his daughter described Smith’s deep belief and epic ability to connect on a personal level with everyone he met, whether it was the teller at the local bank or the chef at a restaurant somewhere in Middle America where he was speaking. She challenged the audience to follow her dad’s example.
For the hundreds of people in the church, and the thousands of others who have been touched by the power of Smith’s commitment to excellence in EMS, the loss of this giant-of-a-man leaves an outsized void. Those who attended his funeral on filled that void for just a moment with memories of a life fully and well lived.
—Teresa McCallion, EMT-B
The “First Lady of EMS”
It’s also with a heavy heart that we report the death of Mrs. Jane Page, wife of founding publisher James O. Page, on Oct. 1, in her Oceanside, Calif., home.
Jane truly was the “First Lady of EMS.” She met Jim when he was executive director of the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation in Basking Ridge, N.J., in the mid-1970s and was by his side throughout his career in emergency services publishing and then his role as a leader in EMS and the fire service.
An understanding public safety wife, Jane supported Jim’s passion and his significant time commitment to the improvement and expansion of the services offered by EMS, fire, law enforcement and dispatch agencies. His role as a “man of the people” frequently took him away from her, his family and his home as he traveled the globe and served in many simultaneous capacities, most notably his dual positions as publisher and battalion fire chief in Carlsbad, Calif., and then as fire chief in his home town of Monterey Park, Calif.; his responsibilities as a partner in the law firm of Page, Wolfberg and Wirth, and the many pro bono cases where he represented emergency personnel and agencies; and his many projects and roles with the Los Angeles County Fire Museum.
When Jim retired and bought a large RV to tour the country, Jane was at his side as navigator, accepting the fact that he had to stop and chat with responders at emergency service agencies along the way.
Jane is survived by her daughters Debbie and Susan, stepsons Andy and Tom, and six grandchildren.
—A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P