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News | May 25, 2023

EMS Week spotlight: Sue Potashnik

By DLA Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: May 21-27 is National Emergency Medical Technician Week. This year’s theme is “Where Emergency Care Begins.” This is a part of a series of spotlights highlighting firefighter/paramedics who serve as DLA’s first responders in emergencies.

Your name: Sue Potashnik

Job title and duty location: Firefighter/paramedic for DLA Land and Maritime in Columbus, Ohio

What inspired you to become a firefighter/paramedic? I started my career as a heavy equipment mechanic in the Marine Corps, but that was not my true calling. I was given the opportunity to cross-train to crash fire rescue after my initial four years. I have always felt the desire to help people in their time of need. 

When did you join DLA Fire and Emergency Services and what did you do before you got here? I joined DLA Fire and Emergency Services in April 9. Before that I was a firefighter/paramedic at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.

Describe your typical shift in 2-3 sentences. First and most importantly, every morning we check out vehicles and equipment to ensure they are in a ready and working state. Every day we try and do some kind of training, either emergency medical or fire related. If anyone calls for help, we assist them in any way that we can.

Is there a moment you’ve encountered on duty that stands out? Knowing when I have contributed to a positive outcome always stands out. That is just a feeling of accomplishment that you don’t always get in other careers. 

What’s the hardest part of your job and why? Not always being able to help as much as you would like can really weigh heavy on a person. We are the type of people who need to see results, and when the result isn’t what you anticipated that can stick with you.  

What do you like most about your job and why? People call us when they don’t know how to solve their problems. This is when we get to use critical thinking and rely on our past experiences to solve the problem in the best way for the customer and the department. It takes a special person to be able to help someone at their worst time, and I love being that person. 

How do you unwind after a shift? I moved back to Ohio to help my parents in their advanced years. I spend most of my off-duty time with my friends and family; it helps keep me grounded and relaxed.