When Kathy Miller found out she was going to be named the Butler County EMS Paramedic of the Year, she was speechless, especially after her boss couldn’t stop saying enough good things about her.

When Miller was called to receive her award at the Wichita Area Insurance Professionals Honoring Heroes Breakfast, she had planned on saying a few words, but again, she found herself practically speechless. She was emotional at the podium and simply said “Thank you” before accepting a plaque and walking off.

“I was pretty surprised, because typically it’s given to someone for doing something specific, like going into a burning building,” Miller said.

No, instead it was all the extra shifts, always bringing a smile to work and being loyal. Miller’s recognition was an accumulation of all she accomplished throughout the year and, more or less, the same way she has been doing her job for the past 33 years. Miller has announced she will retire April 1 of 2018, and the honor is a perfect cap to a long, productive career.

“I really enjoy it,” Miller said. “That’s the thing that’s hitting me now is I’m hitting my final year...I think I’m ready to go on and do other things.

“I’m going to miss the job and meeting people and taking of them,” she added.

Miller, who is an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), works 10 24-hour shifts per month. She answers ambulance calls, checks the trucks to make sure they’re in working order, and checks supplies. Around the station, she’ll take part in shift training, and she’s helped with public relation events, such as going to elementary schools or senior citizen events, and she has taught CPR classes in the past, too. She also helps with the mentoring program that works with kids.

While there’s plenty of work to do in those areas, it’s the part of the job that not a lot of people see that can be the most challenging. In the heat of the moment during a call or an emergency, Miller has to be at her best.

“The biggest thing is most of the time, we don’t see people at their best. They’re dealing with either a horrible situation for themselves or their family, and when they call 911, they just need somebody there. And the person that shows up has to keep it together, no matter what you see, no matter what’s going on there,” Miller said.

She said she’s had to learn how to deal with those tough situations over time. She’s met some interesting people over the years and talked to them while traveling to hospitals and hearing their life stories. The downside is not knowing what happens to most of the people after she leaves them.

Still, her favorite part of the job is not knowing what’s going to happen from day to day. She recalled watching a television show “Emergency” when she was a child and liking the environment she saw on the show.

But the biggest inspiration for her getting into the field was her mother.

“It’s because of her that I’ve done this, and it really means a lot that she believed in me,” Miller said of her mother Donna Neal.