BY JACLYN ROSE –
Pat Westbrook, or Mother Brown to her colleagues, grew up in Potter and was a 1966 graduate of Hatfield High School. Very quickly after graduation she moved to Dallas, Texas and spent the next 15 years living in the big city.
In 1981, Westbrook moved back to Polk County and found her calling in life. “I never was an inside person and I wondered what kind of job I could do and not have to be inside every minute of the day. My niece had a friend who worked with an ambulance service and I thought that might be something I would like to do,” explained Westbrook. After taking the course at what was then Rich Mountain Vo-Tech, Westbrook went to work as an EMT in 1982.
After 33 years of dedicated service to Polk County, Westbook retired on July 17, 2015 from Southwest EMS. “Working with EMS was just a natural thing for me. Back when I started, every small community in the state had one EMT and one driver, so we were on call all the time, but we loved being there, so they couldn’t run us off if they had wanted to. A lot of times, it was sort of like a ministry and that’s why I did it. I know I contributed a lot to helping Robby get his service started and I was glad to do it. I was glad to see his main interest in taking care of the people in Polk County,” explained Westbrook. “I’ve always been a strong woman, but going on runs with R.D. Williams when I first started, I had to act stronger than I was. I had never seen all of the trauma before and it was scary at times.”
Westbrook has worked with Southwest EMS owners, Robby and Sherri Hines, since they both started in the industry and her wisdom and experience has been a great asset to their operation. “In the hardest times in someone’s life, when they needed someone the most, Pat was the strongest, hardest working and most dependable person around. I’ve never known Pat to shy away from anything, you know as a guy we are supposed to be big and strong but so many times, Pat would have to handle it, because we couldn’t. Mother Brown may not have invented EMS, but around here she was one of the first and when you think of her, you think of all the things that have been done over the past 30 years and how many people have been helped,” explained Robby Hines.
“Things have changed a lot in the past 30 years, and now the schedules are better and people are able to spend more time with their families. One regret I have is that I got so caught up and focused on caring for everyone else, that I wasn’t home as much as I would have liked to have been. But I’m proud that both my daughters have entered the medical field. One is a nurse practitioner and the other in elder care,” said Westbrook.
In her retirement, Westbrook plans on taking some time to care for herself, after so many years of caring for others. An avid outdoorsman and hunter, she hopes to get back to a place where she can enjoy those hobbies.
“You cannot replace the wisdom and experience of Mother. The amount of time the guys spend now is nothing like what we’ve had in the past. Pat has always put the patient first, she always asked, ‘what do we have to do to get them there?’ That’s how we were taught, to do the right thing and to take care of people like they were our moms and grandmas. This lady taught me the world about the job we do and to function out in life. In EMS, she is my hero,” said Hines.
“Polk County is my home and I’m so glad I was able to come back here and do something that would make a difference in people’s lives. I love the outdoors here, they are second to none, and the people are so friendly. There’s no place in the world like it,” said Westbrook.