Getting Everyone the Help They Need for 42 Years and Counting
Meet South Branch Emergency Services EMT and Battalion Chief Penny Tampier
Volunteer EMT Penny Tampier joined Hampton Emergency Squad – which recently merged with South Branch Emergency Services - right after she graduated high school. In the 42 years since, she’s been secretary, vice president, president, captain, lieutenant, and, for 25 years, chief.
Penny once responded to a call that someone had fallen on the ice and dislocated her shoulder to find her own mother on the ground.
At least once, the call came to her: A man driving through Hampton realized his father had stopped talking to him from the passenger seat and pulled into the fire station. “Someone called 911, but someone else came screaming over to us, two buildings away in our parking lot,” Penny remembered. “We were there in 10 seconds. He was in cardiac arrest. We shocked him twice and he soon started talking. And then he came to our next meeting and thanked us.” Learning that someone you helped is doing well is the best feeling ever, she said.
Penny does whatever needs to be done, which is why she has also been director of equipment, medical director, and “every committee there ever was,” she said. But of all the EMS leadership roles she’s held, chief is what she loves most.
“I like working with everybody,” she said. “I like making sure things get done and that they run smoothly.”
When Penny saw an opportunity to improve the service her squad provides -one that would also lighten the load for a declining number of Hampton volunteers – she initiated the effort to make it happen. That effort led to the Jan. 1, 2022 merger of Hampton Emergency Squad with South Branch Emergency Services, creating a single organization that operates as SBES.
This was the best way to be sure the community she loves continues to get the emergency medical care it deserves. This was the way to preserve the legacy of those she followed into volunteer EMS service, including her father, two brothers, and an uncle. And this was the way to ensure giving back to the community through volunteer EMS could remain a way of life for herself and those who joined after her, including her husband, Jeff; son Michael, son Daniel, and daughter-in-law Darian.
Everyone she’s not related to at Hampton – and now SBES, too – starts to feel like a relative after awhile. “It’s like a big extra family. We get together and do a lot of things outside the squad and all of our children grow up together,” she said.
Relationships grow with people in other first-responder units, too, she said, because everyone works together. Before that call to help the older man in cardiac arrest was done, Hunterdon Medical Center medics, a volunteer firefighter who heard the call come over his scanner, and her son, Michael, who wasn’t on duty that day, all arrived on scene. Everyone worked together, she said.
Penny has no desire to stop helping her neighbors. She now has a new leadership role: Battalion Chief of SBES Station 4 – the Hampton station.
“When you get a call, it could be anyone who needs help,” she said. “It still feels important to help my neighbors.” -- South Branch Emergency Services is looking for volunteers like you! No experience is necessary, and training and gear are provided for members. Visit sbes365.org to sign up or learn more.