Giving skull base tumor patients more than survival

Not so long ago, the primary goal in removing a skull base tumor was simply saving a patient’s life. The common side-effects of a successful surgery—loss of facial-muscle control, for example, or loss of hearing—were considered unfortunate but virtually unavoidable.

In recent years though, a team at Indiana University Health has joined a select few that have allowed patients to emerge from skull base tumor surgery without a sagging face, silenced world or other challenging outcomes. And they believe their team can become a national leader in this endeavor, attracting patients from far and wide.

Skull base tumors are growths that can form along the base of the skull or directly below the skull base in areas such as the sinuses. Many are benign (noncancerous) and grow slowly over time. In rare cases, a skull base tumor can be cancerous, which means that it is able to spread to other parts of the body.

Rick Nelson, MD, PhD, IU Health surgeon

“The challenge in dealing with a skull base tumor is its proximity to cranial nerves that control critical functions ranging from facial control to hearing, and from voice box use to eye movement,” said Rick Nelson, MD, PhD, an IU Health surgeon specializing in skull base tumor surgery.

Fortunately, IU Health has assembled a team of surgeons who have expertise in operating around those nerves and extracting tumors successfully.

But it isn’t just those surgeons who make IU Health such a skull base tumor success story, adds IU Health Neurological Surgeon and IU Health Foundation Board Member Mitesh V. Shah, MD. It’s also the additional assets IU Health can bring to each case: high-tech facilities and equipment, specialists who can assess a patient and prepare them for surgery, rehabilitation and recovery personnel, a dedicated nursing staff and more.

“Not every hospital in the state or in the region has the manpower or the physical plant expertise to take care of these very complex tumors,” Dr. Shah said. “A small hospital might be able to do technically excellent surgery, but not provide the full range of support.”

Mitesh V. Shah, MD, IU Health neurological surgeon and IU Health Foundation board member

Add to these assets the research opportunities available through the IU School of Medicine, and you have an organization that is uniquely situated to take a lead in skull base tumor surgery, said Dr. Shah and Dr. Nelson. Already, the IU Health team has gathered a large collection of tissue samples from tumor surgeries, a collection that they believe could provide key insights into the tumors and the ways they grow.

With all this potential in mind, the IU Health team has cast a vision of a center of excellence that would not only provide top-level care to patients but would also lead the way on skull base tumor research—perhaps taking us to a day when we can arrive at yet another, even higher definition of success.

If you would like to support the IU Health skull base tumor team in its pursuit of excellence, contact IU Health Foundation Development Officer Jeffrey Roth at 317.963.9031 or

Care for life: Better health for adults with congenital heart conditions

Having congenital heart disease is a lifelong journey with a lot of ups and downs. The IU Health Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) team offers patients healing and hope along the way.

As the only ACHD program in the state recognized by the Adult Congenital Heart Association, the ACHD program provides care for all adolescents and adults in Indiana and surrounding states with congenital heart disease. “We are it,” said IU Health ACHD Program Director Stephen Cook, MD. “We are the only major center in Indiana.”

Although many congenital heart defects are successfully repaired in childhood, people with these heart conditions need to be monitored their entire life. Without proper care, adults born with congenital heart defects can face a range of health risks, such as heart failure and sudden cardiac death.

The philanthropy-funded ACHD program offers patients a team of experts that meet on a weekly basis to discuss their case. This allows IU Health to provide patients with the highest level of personalized, patient-centered care.

“I think that’s a blessing for our patients,” said Dr. Cook.

IU Health ACHD Program Director Stephen Cook, MD

Equally meaningful to patients is the fact that the program offers a wide continuum of care that caters to their unique needs, including nurse navigators who plan multiple appointments on a single day for patients, so they won’t have to travel as often.

Through philanthropy, Dr. Cook hopes to expand that continuum of care even more by adding a dedicated social worker to his team to help address important economic and social conditions that influence the health of the ACHD community.

About 30% of adult congenital heart patients present with signs of anxiety and depression. Dr. Cook believes adding a social worker to his program will help to acknowledge and address patient concerns.

In 2023, the program will expand with the addition of a new ACHD fellow, thanks to a new fellowship program supported by philanthropy. The two-year program will expose future ACHD physicians to the full spectrum of adults with congenital heart disease.

“I am really looking forward to training the ACHD workforce of tomorrow,” said Dr. Cook.

If you’d like to make a gift to support the IU Health Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program, please contact Senior Development Officer Ashley Pleasant at 317.264.9438 or

IU Health and schools team up for lifelong health

Habits can be hard to break. You do them without really thinking about it, and they can affect your health for the better or the worse.

That’s why the IU Health Community Health team partners with local schools to encourage lifelong healthy habits in students.

Carol Weiss-Kennedy, IU Health Community Health Director, says the school years are when individuals start becoming more independent and begin to make decisions for themselves.

“We want to support health in all avenues in school—physical activity, food services, policy development, and curriculum updates,” says Weiss-Kennedy. “Our goal is to ensure evidence-based information is used to educate students and teachers for healthy lifestyles and around sensitive subjects such as sexual health, substance use disorder, tobacco cessation or prevention to name a few.”

Around 12,000 students in the Monroe County area are affected each year by this work, but the reach goes beyond the students.

“What children learn and focus on in school, filters home to families,” says Weiss-Kennedy. “Working with the schools affects the community as a whole in collaboration with key leaders from the fields of health, public health, education, and school health—to improve learning and health in our community”

The community health team also brings some healthcare opportunities to students.

“Many times, our services provide direct support to families such as vaccinations in schools for the student,” says Weiss-Kennedy, “Which means parents don’t have to take time off work to take their child to an appointment.”

Many students across the nation are currently behind on their required vaccinations, so the Monroe County Public Health Clinic—a partnership between IU Health Community Health and the Monroe County Health Department—will be helping fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms get them back on track. They will offer shots for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis — whooping cough), hepatitis A, meningitis, and HPV (human papillomavirus).

“Improving health is important in many settings, such as school, home, out of school programs,” says Weiss-Kennedy. “IU Health Community Health is poised to support in all settings.”

Learn more about IU Health Community Health services.

Heart procedure changes patient’s life: ‘I feel better than I have in years’

Before his surgery, Timothy Ackerman couldn’t walk well or balance, making simple tasks like picking something off the floor nearly impossible.

At 69, he suffered from several medical issues, including a severe heart condition called aortic stenosis, which is deadlier than most cancers.

Recently, Ackerman underwent a transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR at IU Health Bloomington to treat it. The procedure helped him avoid open-heart surgery and go home the next day.

“I feel better than I’ve felt in two or three years,” says Ackerman. “I’m looking for things to do, and I’ve regained an interest that I thought had died for good.”

Watch the video above to learn about the procedure.

Government Solutions to Today’s Healthcare Issues

Healthcare technology refers to the application of various IT tools or software with the goal of increasing hospital and administrative productivity, providing new and intriguing insights into medications and treatments, or improving the overall quality of accessible care.

Every aspect of our medical experience is being integrated with technology to enhance the quality of patients and the efficiency with which it is delivered.


Innovations in healthcare technology

Ultra-precise bots are becoming popular in operating rooms, making treatments faster and easier while also allowing for greater recovery time.

Individuals have had positive interactions with healthcare technology firms. These businesses understand that proper care requires a personalized approach, thus customization for each client is crucial.

Healthtech businesses are creating an ecosystem that promotes human health by tailoring everything from sleep cycles to food plans.


Here are some healthcare government program solutions:

  1. Technology in telecommunications

Online communication serves as a link between healthcare providers and their patients. Patients can get essential health advice and plan visits more easily via email and VoIP video-based conversations by ebt government solutions.

Despite its vast growth, the healthcare business lags behind other industries in terms of technological advancement due to legal restraints. This is acceptable given the importance of laws and regulations in protecting a patient’s privacy rights.

Doctors can now contact one other for medical diagnostics and contribute their medical knowledge to students thanks to the Internet.

    2 . Nanomedicine

Nanomedicine information is required to combine large, complicated databases in order to apply nanoparticles at the nanoscale in living organisms. It aids in laboratory studies and delivers medications intelligently all through the body.

After being put into a patient’s bloodstream, nanorobots can help with drug administration and illness monitoring. By 2023, the worldwide nanomedicine industry is predicted to expand from $111.912 billion in 2016 to $216.063 billion.

   3. Devices that are smart

People can use smart gadgets like fitness trackers to keep a record of how much exercise they receive each day as well as how much adequate sleep they get at night.

People can also use numerous health apps to take their own data. With the help of several tools embedded into the app, they can check their own blood glucose levels and heart rates.

  4. Sensors, gadgets, and healthcare trackers

Patient engagement and citizen service taking care of their own health using technology are crucial to the future of surgeries and healthcare. They’re excellent tools for getting control of our lives and learning something about ourselves.

For all of the needs and much more, there is a tool! There is a gadget for these demands and much more, whether you wish to successfully control your weight, depression, intellectual functioning, fitness level, and stamina.

 5. Predictive insights with big data

Rapid scanning allows for the collection of relevant clinical data. Wearable technology has advanced to the point that it can record continuous data at a reasonable cost. Finally, Recruiting services, interoperable systems, and new legislation have enabled this data to be shared for predictive analytics purposes.



The most important trend for the coming year is the holistic digital transformation of healthcare organizations. In contrast, focused and individualized care for serious illnesses is a growing trend that is expected to continue in the coming years.


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Phone: 703-251-8500

Coaching through common health concerns among African Americans

This year’s theme for Black History Month is “Black Health and Wellness.” Here’s a look at how one health coach promotes that theme.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes,

The patient comes in with concerns. Those concerns may sound like “obesity,” “depression,” and “fatigue.” It takes a full inventory of the patient to get to the core of those descriptors.

That’s where IU Health’s Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Michelle Adams comes in. Her role does not focus on ethnic breakdowns, but she does address overall health concerns.

Research shows that African Americans are generally at higher risk for heart diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Add to that, Indiana statistics that indicate Black residents have contracted the novel Coronavirus at a much higher rate than the general population.

So where does a health coach begin when a patient voices concerns? Health screenings provide an overall view of general health, said Adams. For instance, if there’s an indication of an elevation in blood pressure or pre-diabetes, coaching breaks down the main factors that cause those indicators.

“We’ll pick the key component that is slightly elevated and talk to the person about their day to day activity and lifestyle and then we may tap into specific resources,” said Adams. That can include connecting with a nurse or other medical practitioner. “I definitely look into trying to help them set goals and make changes if they are ready,” she said.

Setting those goals toward better health and wellness is not only based on numbers though. Coaching involves a bigger picture. It involves asking a lot of questions and listening to the answers.

A client who wants to lose weight may be given a goal of side-walking 30 minutes a day. After repeated check-ins, the individual reports that he is not completing the goal. A deeper dive may indicate that he lives in an area where there are no sidewalks, and limited access to other physical outlets. There may be another discovery too. The patient lacks motivation because he is depressed.

“What we hear as the number one priority – losing weight – turns out that the person really just wants someone in his corner, someone to provide social support. Once he felt good about that, he was motivated to become more active,” said Adams, who has a background in fitness. She shares that physical activity comes with a mindset.

“Growing up I looked at exercise as punishment – a dread. As I detached myself from that I formulated a different opinion –activity can be something enjoyable, entertaining, and engaging. It became more of a lifestyle,” said Adams.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report physical activity reduces blood pressure – that can lead to Type 2 diabetes. Even moderate activity can improve sleep and reduce anxiety. The CDC further reports that long-term physical exercise can reduce the risks of developing dementia, lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, and improve weight loss, bone strength, and balance.

Adams recognizes that physical activity isn’t the only or easy answer to health concerns.

“Sometimes, you need to break goals down into bite sized pieces and consider the whole person,” she said. A physical screening may be one indicator of a health risk, but there are other indicators that may not be so obvious. Those include a person’s overall wellbeing – spiritual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, social, and emotional health.

She describes a client who passed a lot of fast food restaurants to and from work and home. A combination of environmental and financial measures came into play when setting goals.

“It became an issue of stopping for fast food rather than going home and cooking. We talked about getting in the right frame of mind and where the priority was. “Sometimes having access to measure and weigh food can be difficult so we try to focus on tool and strategies that can help to quickly analyze nutritional content and make the best choice from there,” said Adams. The goal was to help the client focus on quality and nutrition.

“The reality is there are people who live in environments where there is limited access to healthy food choices and even safe walking spaces,” she said. “Especially in this time of a pandemic, health coaches are retraining participants to look at barriers and how we can help find solutions to those barriers – whether it’s a person’s physical barriers, mental barriers, or emotional barriers.”

In addition to personal health and wellness, this month’s Black History theme focuses on the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) sets the theme annually. According to the ASALH, “the rise in fields, such as Public and Community Health and Health Informatics, have led to a rise in preventative care and a focus on body positivity, physical exercise, nutrition, and exploring other dietary options such as veganism and vegetarianism, and gardening.” The ASALH stresses that Black Health and Wellness not only includes physical body but also emotional and mental health. To learn more, click here.

What Is Retirement Planning?

Retirement planning is something that one prepares for life after the paid work ends, not for the financial aspects but all aspects of life, like lifestyle choices, traveling expenses, hospital expenses, etc. It is a lifelong process that a person can start at any time; retirement planning is the best way to ensure a secure and safe retirement. Before Retirement financial services in Boston, one should consider many calculations, like rent or mortgage, housing cost, maintenance, healthcare cost, travel, day-to-day living necessities like clothing, food, transportation, Life insurance, etc. After retirement, one can enjoy many benefits, like getting time to do what they love or travel to different places. Still, a person can only get these benefits if their future is secured. It would help if you had a good retirement financial plan to enjoy such benefits. A good retirement plan can provide many benefits, which are mentioned below.

Benefits of retirement planning

  1. Roi– by deciding the suitable investment tool for you depending on your financial profile, a retirement plan instrument can help you grow your money and save it and provide you a good return on investment, which can adequately calculate all your financial expectations their required amount.
  2. Financial backup– life is unpredictable, which is why planning for your future when you will be no longer working can lend you many benefits and secure Life bye by helping you in crisis.
  3. Tax benefits– one of the most notable benefits of retirement planning is that a suitable plan helps you reduce your taxable income as per the law, which can give you great relief and also help you to live a less stressful life of Hingham estate planning.
  4. Savings– retirement planning costs can be reduced when you plan them at a younger age. Also, investing in it earlier can be more fruitful for you as you have time. As a result, you get a higher cost, giving you peace of mind. It gives you a robust investment portfolio that provides you with financial support.
  5. Safety– a proper retirement plan can protect your property and asset and provide you maximum benefits of retirement planning and security; many retirement financial services in Boston and other cities can help you prepare a proper plan for your retirement.

How to get a suitable retirement plan

The first and the essential thing that you need to do to choose a suitable retirement plan is to understand your needs and determine the time frame, which means deciding the age when you are planning to get retired; it is crucial to prepare investment goals that can provide you an extra layer of protection when you retire and lend you with other benefits mentioned above.


Retirement benefits are given to the retired government of Hingham retirement planning services, which is why if you are in a private job, you must start thinking about your retirement plans now because the sooner, the better. Almost every private sector has no provision for pension where you have to create your retirement benefits by investing and saving your money.

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South Shore Retirement Services

Address: 25 Recreation Park Dr, Hingham, MA
Phone: 781-836-4214

Transplant advocate, organ donor, trains to climb Africa’s highest peak

Four years ago, Cristina Fontana donated her kidney to a stranger. Now, she is training to hike the summit of Africa’s highest peak – Mount Kilimanjaro. Why? She wants to bring attention to living kidney donation.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes,

It’s physically demanding. It’s emotionally demanding. The most seasoned hikers can experience altitude sickness and severe fatigue. It requires tent camping, adequate hydration and nutrition, and adapting to extreme temperature changes.

On March 12, Cristina Fontana will depart for a 17-hour flight to Tanzania where she will undertake one of the greatest challenges of her lifetime. She will hike to Uhuru Point – the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest freestanding mountain, 19,341 feet above sea level.

When she reaches the top, Fontana intends to hold a banner with a green ribbon, symbolic of kidney disease and organ donation. March is National Kidney Month and March 10, is World Kidney Day. The green ribbon represents something close to Fontana’s heart – the honor of donating a kidney to someone in need. It also represents the transplant patients in her care as a nurse at IU Health University Hospital.

Fontana’s journey toward advocacy began at a young age. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela. At the age of nine, her father was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. He died when Fontana was 14. She wanted so badly to save his life by donating a kidney but age was an obstacle.

“His illness and death forever changed my life,” said Fontana, a resident of Zionsville, Ind. Fifteen years ago, her mother passed of complications from lung disease. She was on dialysis for four months and was not a candidate for transplant.

“The death of both my parents created a heightened sense of need for me to help others,” said Fontana.

It’s estimated more than 100,000 people are awaiting life saving organ transplants; 85 percent of those waiting, are in need of a kidney. In the back of her mind, Fontana knew there would be a time when she would become a living donor.

That day came on Jan. 25, 2018. She didn’t know her recipient; she just knew someone needed her kidney. She later learned that “someone” was a 21-year-old Frankfort resident who had been on dialysis for three years awaiting transplant. Coincidentally, Spanish was his first language. The two became better acquainted following transplant.

“The idea of giving life to someone ignited my soul,” said Fontana. Prior to her kidney donation she worked as a nurse at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and also as a radiation therapist at IU Health Methodist Hospital. Six months after the organ transplant, Fontana became a transplant living donor coordinator at IU Health University Hospital.

Both personally, and professionally she has seen the difference organ transplantation makes in the life of both the donor and the recipient. When her recipient told her she had changed his life, she responded: “Becoming a donor changed my life.”

Her donor’s body went into rejection approximately two years after his transplant. The reality of those challenges – faced every day by those with kidney disease –continues to propel Fontana to advocate and educate others about living kidney donation.

“What I can say for sure, is that I would donate my kidney all over again, if I had more to give. I had very high hopes and expectations regarding my medical care, surgery, recovery, and post-surgical outcomes. I do not share my story with all my patients, but I do with some. I hear how comforting it is to them to know that I have been where they are, it creates a special bond. I received the best care possible at IU Health and wish the same for my patients,” said Fontana, 53.

“I knew going into surgery that I was really going to be ok, and I would live a healthy, happy life with one kidney,” said Fontana. She was hospitalized overnight and within 12 weeks after surgery she was back to her regular routine. That includes yoga and hiking. Overtime, she became active with the Kidney Donor Athletes (KDA), a group committed to inspiring, supporting, and educating people about the experience of kidney donation.

Since transplant, Fontana, has completed a number of challenging hikes including, Machu-Picchu, more than 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains,

Rainbow Mountain, 17,060 feet above sea level, near Cusco, Peru, and Hawaii’s Waimea Canyon – 10 miles long and 3,000 feet deep. She has also hiked U.S. National Parks – Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Zion.

Fontana was initially chosen to join a select group of KDA athletes for the Kilimanjaro climb. When her family learned of the challenge they wanted to join her. “They were with me through my kidney donation, so it seemed right that they should be with me through this,” said Fontana. Her husband, Daniel Gomes, their son, Alex Gomes, and their daughter, Gabriela Gomes-Lueders, and her husband, Blake Lueders, will join her on the eight-day hike. The youngest of the group, Fontana’s son, is a college freshman. There are age restrictions for the hike. Fontana’s other son, Tomas Gomes, and his girlfriend Brianna Perl, will join them at the bottom of the mountain for the post hike celebration.

The group will carry 33-pound duffle bags with their supplies including nourishment, sleeping, and tent gear for eight days of camping. They will use lighter packs for day hiking. Fontana is taking her yoga mat for stretching along the trek. They will cross five ecosystems – beginning with a hot and dry climate and ending with freezing temperatures at the summit.

“We’ve been training and we’ve learned that breathing and pacing ourselves is the key to negotiating the climates and altitudes,” said Fontana. “I believe my secret weapon is hot yoga and taking care of my body. I hope in some way to inspire someone and to tell the world not to be scared to do something bold and crazy that your heart truly desires. It might bring blessings to your life and the lives of others.

“I have been honored to work alongside the staff at IU Health that helped me through my donation process. I am privileged to help educate, care for, and encourage other donors to pursue living kidney donation every single day through my job. My upcoming summit to Kilimanjaro is a different way to inspire donors and show that just because we are donors and only have one kidney, it does not mean we cannot live full healthy lives and achieve great things,” she said.

And about that banner with the green ribbon – It also has this message: “I have one kidney and made it to the top of Kilimanjaro.”

LifeLine crewmember found his calling

He thought his life walk would involve the priesthood; instead, Jesus Hollins is serving others as an EMT.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes,

He was raised in the Roman Catholic faith and his mother encouraged him to help others. Jesus Hollins thought those two influences were leading him into the priesthood.

“I really felt God was calling me to help people. Later I realized maybe the priesthood wasn’t what he was telling me to do. I think it was more a nudge toward working in the medical field,” said Hollins, 24.

Born in Texas, Hollins moved to Indiana at the age of four. He went on to graduate with Pike High School’s class of 2017, and was raised the middle child of Juan and Esmeralda Rubio. He said it was the death of his beloved grandfather that changed the course of his vocation.

“I was about four days away from taking the psychological test for the priesthood when my grandfather passed. He was the glue that held my family together. He would go up to homeless people and take his shirt off his back and give to them. If he had money, he’d give them money,” said Hollins. “Growing up I learned that I could make someone smile just by talking to them.”

At the time he was already accepted at Marian University intending to study theology. His grief led him to postpone testing for the priesthood.

“I switched to nursing but then dropped out after a year because it was too expensive for my family,” he said. That decision took him on a path to where he is today. He worked while taking courses toward becoming an EMT. In November 2020, he was hired at IU Health LifeLine.

Hollins joins a team that includes professionals experienced in adult and pediatric critical care, and life support. LifeLine provides high quality comprehensive ground and helicopter transportation for various emergencies, life-threatening trauma, and patient moves between facilities and home. The IU Health provider currently has openings for paramedics and EMTs.

Hollins heard about the EMT opening from a friend and jumped at the opportunity to practice his skills.

“I tell people that 20 percent of our job is medical – taking blood pressure, checking the pulse, and making sure the patient is comfortable – and 80 percent is talking to the patient and showing you care,” said Hollins. That’s where he practices his gift of compassion.

Hollins’ shift has him working three days a week, 12-hour days transporting patients to and from home, hospitals, assisted living, and rehabilitation facilities. He travels around the state and has transported as far away as Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. Most of his patients are between the ages of 40 and 60 and have been separated from family members due to the pandemic.

“A lot of people just want to talk about their lives. Sometimes they’ve been in the hospital for weeks and months and have had limited human interaction. The main thing for me is treating them like a human being – the way I’d want my grandfather treated,” said Hollins.

“Jesus is an amazingly positive person that always comes to work with a goal to do his best,” said LifeLine supervisor, Matt Wright. “He’s often early getting to work so he can get his equipment checked and ambulance cleaned. And sometimes just to socialize or study for school. Other team members will specifically ask to be partnered with Jesus because they appreciate the positive energy he puts out in the world.”

Hollins relates two special incidents that he said affirmed his role with EMS.

One involved a patient that he was transporting from Indiana to Kentucky. Nurses had told him the patient was anxious and agitated.

“My first impression was that he didn’t want anyone to talk to him but it was a long ride and little by little he began to open up. As he started unraveling his life, I realized he really just needed someone to listen,” said Hollins.

Another time, Hollins and his partner were returning to Indianapolis after transporting a patient to Muncie. They came up on a vehicle accident and radioed in to notify headquarters that they were the first responders.

“We turned on our sirens and lights and as we walked up we saw little girl with a deep laceration on her forehead. My partner took her to ambulance and I got supplies to assist. She was talking and conscious but nervous,” said Hollins. They transported her IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.

“You never know where you’re going to end up,” said Hollins. “I think that for me, serving others as an EMT is exactly where I am supposed to be.”