Compassionate, dedicated, eager, leader, lifelong learner – these are just a few words that come to mind as I write this nomination. I am nominating Mike Rhein of the Babbitt Ambulance Service for the Stars of Life Award because of his lifelong dedication to EMS. Mike was first certified as an EMT in 1986. He has dedicated the last 37 years to serving our community on our volunteer ambulance service and many of those on our volunteer fire department as well. Of this time, he has spent more than 20 years in a leadership role.

Mike leads with his compassion, empathy, and desire to see his team succeed. There is never a challenge too big, or a change too significant, that he cannot overcome (well, other than getting rid of the MAST trousers). Without Mike, our service would surely not be the same and likely would not have succeeded. The atmosphere of consistency, growth potential, and trust is one of the greatest legacies he will leave for our team.

His dedication to our service has been unwavering. In his leadership role, it never mattered if he was on vacation, celebrating a birthday, or out grooming the trails, he never made us feel like we were bothering him on his day off or failed to take a call to get a transport out. He might even check in with us during calls to make sure we feel comfortable or, for longer transports, that we are making sure we stop to eat.

Mikes dedication to this service is admirable. He not only shows up but his enthusiasm and passion for the job makes the rest of the team want to show up as well. We find ourselves discussing our failures and successes, never with judgement, but with the purpose of continuous improvement. Our failures did not ever make us less, instead, they just made us human. Leadership is embodied by your ability to get others to follow, and Mike does that in every facet of the role.

EMS is better because Mike has created an environment to foster it in our area. He has created a world that entices people to join and show up.

As I finish writing this, I want to express the personal impact Mike had on me. 37 years ago, Mike showed up for a call, a young boy with severe traumatic injuries. As a young provider he sat in the back of that ambulance with a scared mother who watched him anxiously. Now I get to stand here, as his successor for director, and express my gratitude for the example he has set. Mike, thank you for forging this path for our service and your team. Thank you for being the one who showed up at all hours of the day and night for our community. Your example of what it means to be an EMT has driven our team to become passionate, enthusiastic, and dedicated. Your legacy will be one that we carry with us and continue to pass on, not only at our job in EMS, but as community members.

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