Lindsay Carrier of Piney Creek laughs when she describes her childhood as the daughter of Sparta Elementary teacher, Kathy Vaught. “It was hard to get by with much,” Lindsay said recently. “If I had a bad test score or didn’t eat my lunch, my mom knew it before I got home.” But while some might consider those high expectations a curse, for those who fall under Lindsay’s care these days, it is definitely a blessing.
Ever the high achiever, Lindsay graduated from Alleghany High School a semester early in 1998. After high school, she enrolled in the criminal justice program at Surry Community College (SCC). Her criminal justice degree led to a job as a telecommunicator with the Elkin Police Department.
Telecommunicators are the lifeline between the public and emergency responders, and between those responders and those coming to their assistance. The telecommunicators develop the ability to fill in the gaps between what a caller in distress needs and how to meet those needs. They learn to juggle a caller on the phone, entering data into a computer, and talking on the radio with responders. Oftentimes they handle multiple calls at once. It is a high stress occupation that is often underappreciated.
After a stint in Elkin, Lindsay took a similar job in Iredell County and then came back home to the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office. She had one daughter and was pregnant with her second child. She went into labor at 28 weeks and found herself at Hugh Chatham Hospital in Elkin.
Lindsay recalls those hours as extremely difficult. Her daughter, Tori, was born and immediately whisked away to Brenners Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care unit. Lindsay didn’t get to hold Tori after the birth and instead was simply given a telephone number to call to check on Tori’s status. Lindsay called that number later that day. The call was answered by a cheery nurse who identified herself as Lori. After giving an update on Tori’s condition, Lori offered to bring some things from Breeners. That evening Lori drove from Winston Salem to Elkin with photos of Tori and a blanket that she had been using. Lindsay said that at that moment she and Lori clicked. They have been best friends ever since that first visit.
After Tori’s birth, Lindsay went back to work in Iredell County as a detention officer in the county jail. She quickly grew tired of dealing with so much negatively and found herself growing increasingly cynical. Hoping to tap back into a greater sense of public service, she left the sheriff’s office and enrolled in the emergency medical technician (EMT) program at SCC.
Prior to Tori’s birth, Lindsay had completed her basic emergency medical technician course and was working on the advanced level. She dropped out of the program to focus her energy on Tori. Now, years later, she found herself making the commute from Piney Creek to Mt. Airy each day. Her previous EMT certification had lapsed so she had to go back through the six month basic program. She then entered the paramedic program.
The paramedic program is 13 months of intense, stress filled training. There is little room for error and perfection is expected of the students. The course combines 1200 hours of classroom instruction with 700 hours of clinical work in the hospital or “ride time” in an ambulance. This structure allows the students to take classroom theory and put it into practice in real-life situations. Those clinical hours are closely monitored by a preceptor who constantly evaluates the students. Those years of her mom’s close oversight and the stress inoculation from her time as a telecommuniactor made Lindsay a natural for this work.
After completing the program, Lindsay chose a job with the Yadkin County Emergency Medical Services. She viewed the high call volume in Yadkin County as a way to quickly develop her skills. It also gave her access to a part-time job with the Miller Ambulance Service which handles ambulatory transports.
The two jobs stretch into one long 36 hour shift which Lindsay completes twice a week. She is quick to point out the she couldn’t have completed her education or taken this job without the assistance of her husband, Alleghany deputy Steve Carrier, or her mom. Both daughters are involved in sports and church activities. It takes the whole extended family to make it all work.
An obvious question in response to this hectic schedule is, “Why live here?” It would seem to be easier to live “off the mountain” or to relocate in the county to lessen the commute. Lindsay has a quick response to that question. “We make those sacrifices to live in Alleghany County. This is our home. We wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”