Okla. Father, Son Paramedics Speak on Rewarding Nature of EMS Work
April 08--David Morriss and his son, David Lee Morriss, are both paramedics with Mercy EMS and enjoy the main aspects of the job, which are rendering aid to people and getting them to a higher level of medical care during illness or after an accident.
Mercy EMS responds to dozens of calls in Pontotoc County each day.
David Lee Morriss has been a paramedic at Mercy EMS for seven years, but he worked for Murray County EMS for two years before that.
"I was a basic at Murray County," Morriss said. "I was working down there, going through paramedic school. Once I got my paramedic, I transferred to (EMS, now Mercy EMS)."
One of the reasons he wanted to transfer was because his father was a longtime paramedic at what is now called Mercy EMS.
"Since he'd been there so long, and I knew what kind of service it was, because I grew up there as a kid," Morriss said. "I'd always been around the station as a kid, so everybody was like family to me."
Morriss described himself as a people person and said that was one of the reasons he wanted to be a paramedic.
"I like to give back to the community," Morriss said. "I like helping people."
Morriss said he also likes working at a fast pace, which paramedics must do, making split-second decisions.
Morriss is also a volunteer firefighter with Pickett Volunteer Fire Department. He has been there for 10 years.
Morriss lived in Ada most of his life and graduated from Vanoss High School.
For Morriss, the rewards of the job include knowing that he has saved someone's life.
"People call us on the worst day of their life, and we're there to help," he said. "So just knowing that we helped that outcome, or we gave them their chance or give them the best shot that we could. Sometimes the outcome isn't always great (like we want it to be), but as long as we know we did our job the very best we can, it's rewarding."
Morriss said there are downsides to the job, including seeing and working on sick or injured children.
"Every time you lose a child, it's very tough," he said.
Morriss and his father work on different shifts, so they don't work together very often, but when they do, Morriss enjoys it.
"We don't work together a lot, but every once in a while we get to," Morriss said. "He's fun to work with. He's got a lot of experience that I can't learn overnight. I'll never get it until I've put more years in, like he's done."
Morriss and his wife, Marissa, have two daughters, Gracie and Davie. They own and operate Air One Inflatables, an indoor inflatable jump zone and party center in Ada.
David Morriss said he enjoys working with his son when they get the chance.
"It's kind of unique, seeing my kid grow up and do what I do. He cut his teeth from a long ways back," Morriss said with a laugh. "We moved up here in '91, and I think David was 2 and a half to 3 years old. He'd seen me do it so much. He'd be in and out of the back of the ambulances checking things out and stuff. That's kind of what he wanted to get into."
Morriss went to school and grew up in Durant. He was with Bryan County EMS for six years before moving to Ada and joining Valley View EMS.
Morriss became interested in EMS while serving in the military. He said the job requires more than just treating people physically.
"You see all kinds of people in trouble and in need, and you see them at their worst point, and it takes a special person to do all that," Morriss said. "Because you've got to be a counselor and have several hats on when you're dealing with people mentally and psychologically, I guess you'd say."
Morriss said helping people is its own reward. He is happy that pre-hospital care has come a long way over the years.
"We can do a lot more now than back in the '80s when I started," Morriss said. "We can do a lot more things now, as far as putting your pre-hospital skills to work. As far as stabilizing cardiac patients, and trauma patients, we try to get them to the appropriate facilities as fast as we can. And if we fly them, then we will fly them straight to the trauma center. That makes a big difference."
Morriss said there is something known as a golden hour, where doctors would like trauma patients in surgery within an hour of an incident.
"That way, they have a better chance of survival," Morriss said.
Morriss said it can be a tough job, and one downfall is it can be rough on family life, due to a long shift. Mercy EMS works on a 24 hours on, 48 hours off schedule.
Morriss said having hobbies helps. He owns cows and miniature horses.
"I like doing the outdoor stuff," Morriss said. "I guess I get that from my dad. He was a farmer and rancher, and I kinda went on with that."
Morriss said he also likes shooting guns.
"You have to have a way to escape," Morriss said. "You can't let all that stuff get real personal, because it can really mess with you, as far as traumatic events. You see a lot of kids in accidents and some are pretty detrimental. If you let that work on you, then it can really affect you as far as PTSD and what not. I know there's a lot of paramedic burnout and stuff. But you have to keep on focus that you're doing the greater good (for people).
In addition to Mercy EMS, Morriss works part time with Pauls Valley EMS, which also covers Stratford.
Morriss and his wife, Dana, have children and "a bunch of grandchildren."
"So, I stay pretty busy," he said.
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