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Longtime American Medical Response Paramedic Retires



Ben Cruthirds started his EMS career in 1977

Some habits are hard to shake. Ben Cruthirds still wakes up before the sun, even though he is retired. Cruthirds had a long and distinguished career in EMS, including 40 years with American Medical Response (AMR) South Mississippi.

He lives on a little farm in southern Mississippi with his wife, Cathy. Cruthirds’ daughters and their families live nearby. Brandy and Nick and Jessica and Jason have blessed the Cruthirds with three grandchildren - Hannah, Gracie and Bentley.

“I used to wake up at 3 a.m. to be on shift by 4:30 a.m.,” he said. “Now I sleep until 4:30 a.m., get a cup of coffee and watch the sun come up. It’s my favorite time of day.”

Cruthirds spent most of his days serving others as a paramedic. He started his career in 1977. It’s really all he ever wanted to do.

“When I was a kid, my dad got so aggravated with me,” he said. “Every time we’d go into town to get groceries, he’d have to take me to the ambulance station. One time he made me get out and ask to see the ambulance. I was as happy as a lark. Once I was old enough to work on one, I did.”

Over his 44-year career, Cruthirds has earned many honors, including: 1999 Employee of the Year, 2004 Paramedic of the Year, 2017 City of Biloxi Humanitarian Medal and 2019 City of Gulfport Medical Responder of the Year. He was also invited to Washington D.C., after Hurricane Katrina, and received special recognition for his outstanding performance before, during and after the devastating hurricane.

EMS has been both rewarding and challenging, Cruthirds said.

“AMR has served residents in the Mississippi gulf region since 1974. So much has changed since 1977,” he said. “COVID was a challenge. It was tough. You had to mask up, glove up and gown up for each call. After each call we had to decontaminate the unit. It was a trying time, but everyone worked together and we pulled through it.”

Cruthirds encourages young people to consider a career in EMS.

“This is a very good career,” he said. “You’re not going to become a millionaire, but you’ll make a comfortable living and you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you can help someone. I would encourage anyone considering a career in EMS to do it...it is very rewarding. AMR is a very good company. They’ve been very good to me. I’ve always done what I enjoy doing, and it turned out to be my profession.”

The best part of his job, Cruthirds said, was being able to help his neighbors, doing everything from changing a flat tire to saving someone’s life.

“I’m going to stay part-time and work three or four days a month so I can say that I’m still in it,” he added. “It’s hard to give it up totally.”

 Ben Cruthirds (left), a paramedic for more than 40 years, recently retired from AMR South Mississippi. He is pictured with James Carver. 

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