From Combat Boots to High Heels

November 17, 2011

From Combat Boots to High Heels

As the EMS relations director for HCA Midwest Health System and the reigning Mrs. Missouri America 2012, Tina York, NREMT-P, sports some footwear she only used to slip on for date night with her husband: high heels.

York, a Lee’s Summit resident, worked as an emergency medical technician (EMT)-paramedic for 15 years with the Kansas City Fire Department—on the streets, as she likes to say, where her everyday shoes were sturdy, lace-up boots. A self-professed adrenaline junkie, the vivacious 35-year-old mother of three is passionate about helping people in crisis situations. Nearly two years ago, York traded in her paramedic’s uniform in favor of a corporate dress code when she accepted the position with HCA Midwest.

It was a tough decision for York to leave her EMT-paramedic job where every shift involved real-time action and response—sometimes in an ambulance, as a flight medic, as an emergency room paramedic and as a supervisor.

“A paramedic is usually the first one on the scene of a 9-1-1 call,” says York. “Critical thinking skills, compassion and sense of humor that’s sometimes required to balance the negativity or pressure of a situation are essential tools for an EMT.”

York pauses to smile when she talks about the stereotype of an EMT—a mold she and her partner, another female, shattered. “Frequently we answered calls where someone needed transport to the hospital from their home,” says York. “Even in the middle of a medical emergency, people were concerned as to whether or not we could carry them out,” says York. “I’m stronger than I look.”

York now has weekends free to spend with her husband, Dave, and 14- and 12-year-old daughters and 9-year-old son. As EMS relations director for HCA Midwest—Kansas City’s largest healthcare network—York works on the flip side of patient care, conducting education for paramedics and EMTs.

“I also help promote positive relationships with EMS providers,” says York. “I get to interact in a different way and work with the people who still work the streets as first responders. I empathize with them—being a paramedic can be tough on your body and psyche.”

In addition to York’s role at HCA Midwest, she is a pageant winner. On Sept. 3, York achieved a goal she set for herself four years ago: she was crowned Mrs. Missouri America at the competition in Branson, Mo. The crown, sash and opportunity to create a platform for breast cancer awareness with the Susan G. Komen Foundation are exciting byproducts of York’s win. But what this mother relishes more than the title, media appearances or representing the state of Missouri on the televised Mrs. America Pageant in April 2012 is the example she sets for her children.

“Regardless of the outcome of that competition, I’ve followed through with a goal I set for myself; I’ve demonstrated perseverance to my kids,” says York. “That’s a priceless lesson.”

York has chosen breast cancer as a rallying point during her year as Mrs. Missouri America. She lost a grandmother to the disease, and participates in walks and other activities to shine a light on the importance of early detection. In August 2011, York joined friends for the 60-mile 3 Days for a Cure walk in Chicago.

“It was an amazing experience,” says York, who personally raised $2,300 for the walk. “Humbling, exciting, inspiring, emotional.”

She continues to make public appearances on the topic of breast cancer. “When you have a title or a crown it’s bigger than a microphone—it’s a bullhorn,” says York. “People will stop, look and listen. Though Mrs. Missouri America goes away in April—unless I win the crown in the national competition—I am still Tina, with a commitment to raising awareness about breast cancer.”

York’s voice has added volume for her cause because of her pageant win. She has a fierce dedication to her profession and touches lives along the way. She loves her family. And though her choice of shoes these days is usually a fashionable pair of heels, those lace-up boots still have a place of honor in her closet.