Shania Russell – Unsung Hero

Shania Russell, an emergency medical technician (EMT) for Harrison County Emergency Squad is being recognized as an Unsung Hero by the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) for her work during the pandemic.

As a first responder, Shania's EMT responsibilities put her on the front line for dealing with many volatile situations. The job is very unpredictable, and she never knows exactly what she is walking into when responding to an emergency.

A call to 911 that grandma fell and needs assistance can quickly turn into treating a cardiac arrest once she and her partner arrive at the scene and assess the situation. Administering Narcan to an overdose patient may put Shania at risk if the individual wakes up fighting, which can occur frequently in these circumstances.

For nearly a year now, Shania has also had to face the global pandemic head on. As an EMT, she was used to wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) when responding to emergencies. However, the threat of COVID-19 dramatically increased that requirement.

In situations where Shania is aware that she is working with a COVID-19 patient, she has to wear an N95 mask, a gown, eye protection, and double gloves in order to protect herself from the virus.

Shania has been at her job for about two years. Working as an EMT was already stressful but the pandemic has certainly caused that to increase. But Shania does not let that deter her from doing the job that she worked so hard to earn.

In school, Shania struggled with learning, especially with reading and math. As a senior at Liberty High School, she sought out services from DRS to help her transition from school to postsecondary education and employment.

DRS Clarksburg Branch Office Manager Lori Cumberledge worked with Shania to help her identify an employment goal. Because of her learning challenges, Shania knew she would do better with a hands-on educational opportunity. After graduating from Liberty in 2016, she went on to Pierpont Community and Technical College where she took emergency medical services classes.

It took her a few attempts to pass the test, but Shania earned her EMT certification in June 2018, and she was thrilled with her accomplishment.

Shania has always taken her job very seriously. She understands that the situations she deals with every day can be life or death, and she doesn't want to make mistakes. Once on the job, she sought out mentors that she could go to for advice and guidance.

Cumberledge nominated Shania for the Unsung Heroes recognition because of the role she plays in assisting and protecting the public, the very nature of which can often put her in at-risk situations.

Shania works 24-hour shifts, usually three times within a week, but her schedule varies from week to week. She does have close coworkers that she can confide in when the stress gets to be too much.

In her free time, Shania spends time with her family and friends. She is a triplet. Being the middle child, she's slightly younger than one sister and just a few minutes older than the other.

Shania may pursue paramedic training at some point down the road. For now, she is happy and satisfied with her life. Like so many others, she is anxious to see an end to COVID-19 and a return to some type of normalcy.

Shania is honored to have been nominated for the Unsung Heroes recognition and grateful to DRS and others who have encouraged and supported her success.