Features

Going above and beyond

A Hollister paramedic is known for doing selfless deeds.
Lee, loving her job. Photo courtesy of Briana Lee.
Lee, loving her job. Photo courtesy of Briana Lee.
Briana Lee on the job. Photo courtesy of Briana Lee.
Briana Lee on the job. Photo courtesy of Briana Lee.

As a paramedic, Hollister resident Briana Lee knows something about helping others. After working with the San Benito County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team for the past 16 years, it’s become second nature to her—and she often assists others in ways that go beyond her job duties. On Aug. 10, she showed this generous nature when she and her EMS team responded to an emergency call in Hollister. 

“An eldlerly gentleman was mowing his lawn and fell and needed to be transported to the hospital,” said Frankie Gallagher, director of marketing and community relations at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital. “After the American Medical Response responded and took him to the hospital, she went back to the gentleman’s home and finished mowing the lawn for him.”  

The gentleman’s neighbor witnessed Lee’s actions, and took a snapshot in amazement. 

“All of a sudden I saw somebody out there mowing his lawn,” said the witness, wishing to remain anonymous. “I got up to look out the window, and it was the paramedic that had taken him to the hospital. It made me cry a little bit, because it made me realize there really are still kind people on this earth.”

Lee, 37, said she never gave her actions a second thought. 

“He was just the sweetest man and I just felt so bad for him,” Lee said. “He was mowing the lawn and [tripped on a  rose bush]. His garbage was being taken out the next day and he needed his lawn mowed, so I just went back and did it for him. That way he wouldn’t have to come home and feel like he had to finish mowing the lawn.” 

This type of selflessness from Lee didn’t surprise Emergency Services Manager, Kris Mangano.

“She’s that kind of person,” Mangano said. “She goes above and beyond for everybody.” 

And such gestures aren’t lost upon other paramedics in San Benito County, either. Lee said that many of her co-workers and firefighters have gone beyond their job duties to help others. Efforts including changing light switches for disabled residents and purchasing new shoes for a child are just the more notable ones.

“I’ve seen stuff across the board,” Lee said. “There was a little boy who was skateboarding and broke his leg, and we had to cut his new Jordans. My co-worker, out of his own pocket, went and bought him a new pair of Jordan sneakers.”

Mangano said Lee has continually amazed her, especially since Lee also devotes time to her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. 

“When I hear that she’s just getting off a shift and then going to work in the classroom or something, I’m like, ‘I’d be dead for days,’” Mangano laughed. “She only works 48-hour shifts, so I’m sure she had plenty of energy to go mow someone’s yard!” 

However, Lee finds the energy and devotion she puts into her job as just part of her routine. Apparently that also goes for mowing a lawn for a patient in need. 

“I didn’t do it to get any recognition or anything like that,” Lee said. “I want people to be happy. I want people to know that we’re there for them. We are there in people’s time of need, and if there’s something that we can do to brighten that situation or make that situation any better, we try to do it.” 

 

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Jenny Mendolla Arbizu

Jenny is a Hollister native who resides in her hometown with her husband and son. She graduated from San Benito High School, and received her BA in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and her MA in Education from San Jose State University. Jenny has written for the Hollister Freelance, San Benito Magazine and South Valley Magazine. She finds joy in meeting new people in San Benito County and in spotlighting the county’s events and businesses. When not writing, Jenny can be found cuddling with her fur-babies, performing with SBSC, singing with the Hollister VFW, or doing rope climbs at Cold Storage CrossFit.