Raising the Star: Mississippi Milestones in EMS and A Few Related Stories is a creative non-fiction/memoir written by Wade N. Spruill, Jr., the first and longest-serving director of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Trauma Care for the public health agency of his home state. This book highlights some of the significant developmental milestones of these programs and reveals a few of his personal/never told stories about each.
From his early childhood in Greenwood, the cotton capital of the Mississippi Delta, Wade dreamed of becoming a physician. His weak grades ended his plan with graduation in 1970 from the University of Mississippi. Desperate for a career path that might eventually fund his secondary goal of becoming a Clinical Psychologist, he took a temporary job with the county health department in his home town. However, a personal tragedy delayed the beginning of his new career and founded his life's purpose.
In late June of 1970, a drunk driver, traveling on the wrong side of a two-lane road in a rural Mississippi county, crashed head-on into an unsuspecting driver and died instantly. A passer-by discovered the tragic scene and, without aiding the victims, drove on to find a telephone and summon help. When the help arrived, from a funeral home, the driver had no training and the funeral coach/hearse no life-saving equipment on board. The "help" delivered the surviving victim to a small hospital with no staff capable of caring for his traumatic injuries and without resources to transfer him to an appropriate facility; Jim Spruill also died. In 1970, EMS and Trauma systems did not exist in Mississippi, nor most of America.
Life would never be the same for the young man that had taken what he thought would be short-termed work. Once within the central offices of the Mississippi State Board of Health, Wade N. Spruill, Jr., envisioned a place beyond funeral coaches for ambulances, beyond morticians for emergency medical care, beyond unequipped and unstaffed rural hospitals. Motivated by the death of his grandfather, Spruill channeled his inquisitive nature into a determined quest that has lasted fifty years. With facts, patience, persistence, and respect earned at local, state, and national levels, he discovered ways to build and direct Mississippi's first-ever emergency medical services and trauma care systems.
This book is an accounting of his Star of Life journey, which has solidly ensconced him in Mississippi health care history and affected the lives of thousands.