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On his day off, Danny Blevins, director of Morehead-Rowan County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) helps manage the scene of a hit and run accident on Fleming Road in Morehead, KY. Danny, 55, is an incredibly active member of the Rowan county community. Danny uses his life experience and open-mindedness to empower his employess to take care of themselves so they can take care of others.

Don't judge, take care

story by Madelyn Wigle

"I remember your voice," said a woman from behind the festival booth.  "Do you work with the ambulance service?"

She was talking to Danny Blevins. While she didn't know his face, the sound of his voice flashed her back to a car wreck where she had been severely injured. Danny's voice had talked her through everything. That encounter, early in his career, helped affirm his path, Danny says.

As director of Morehead-Rowan Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Danny, 55, tells his team that what they say and how they conduct themselves truly matters. Part of Danny's decision to organize, train and prepare for emergencies in his hometown is rooted in tragedy. When Danny was eight, in the early 1970s, he heard a terrible car crash outside his home--it was his grandparents coming to visit. No emergency response existed and his grandmother died.

Danny started in public service by becoming a volunteer firefighter and later a paramedic. In his leadership role, Danny educates his staff to be open-minded and to respect those they serve.

"There's tough living going on out in the hills and hollers, and they're our people," he says. He wants to instill that "everybody has a background that put them in that situation. We don't judge them, we take care of them."

Danny encourages self-care among his staff. When he began as a paramedic, staff left the station only for 911 calls. Now he allows employees to attend to family needs and to find time to replenish themselves. Danny's mother, Ruth, calls him a peacemaker. For Danny, public service is an ethic and a framework for interpreting the world around him.

"It doesn't matter who we run into, creed, color, situation--you treat everybody the same," he says. "You just take pride in helping people."

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Danny helps manage the scene of a hit and run accident on Fleming Road in Morehead. He motions down the highway referencing the vehicle who fled the scene of the crash. Danny's youngest brother and Police Chief, Derrick Blevins, would catch the suspect shortly after the crash, after a 911 phonecall describing the vehicle and license plate number.

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Morehead Police officers talk through their tactical response training in an unused building at Morehead State University. To prepare for a possible active shooter, the officers strategically clear each room and simultaneously protect paramedics and EMTs. For the training, police collaborate with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) 10 hours or more per month.

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Danny replaces the battery on a Project Lifesaver transmitter for an autistic elementary student. This transmitter has a tracking signal. If a registered adult or child goes missing, the family or caregiver can notify their local Project Lifesaver agency, and a trained emergency team will respond to the wanderer’s area.

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Danny Blevins takes a break from fundraising errands for the Route 377 Volunteer Fire Department and shares lunch and a laugh with his friends at Pure Pit Barbeque in Morehead.

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Danny reflects, "I can't speak for everybody, but for me personally as a white, 55 year-old male, I don't care where you're from, if you love your family and you work for a living, I have just as much in common with you. If you want to get along with others, come to this country, then where is the conflict?"

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Danny (left) shares a moment talking with his younger brother, Darren, outside a local fire department. Both brothers have committed themselves to engaging with and serving their communities, particularly in emergency response.

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"I know where my great-great-great grandfather is buried," Danny says. The Blevins family history runs deep in Kentucky, reaching back several generations. Danny is one of seven siblings. All four brothers are in public service, either as firefighters, police or emergency medical response.

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"She is the keeper of our family history," Danny says of his mother, Ruth Blevins, before sharing a moment with her at her Morehead home. Ruth raised seven children and maintains an archive of their memories, schoolwork, art and accomplishments in a room in her house.

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Danny gazes at the Hickory Flats fire lookout tower in Daniel Boone National Forest where he comes to re-set and relax on occasion. Blevins volunteers with Route 377 Fire Department, which oversees the tower, a national historic site not in active use.