Every once in a while, you meet someone who renews your faith in the goodness of humanity.
In my case, I recently met three of these people. They will be featured in an article on first responders in next month’s special edition of Tex Appeal Magazine’s “Women in Business” issue.
These amazing women are Georgette Hurt, a detective for the Copperas Cove Police Department; Christy Scoggins, a family nurse practitioner and emergency room nurse at Metroplex; and Megan Leighman, a firefighter and paramedic for the Harker Heights Fire Department.
What struck me immediately about each of these gals was their dedication to and passion for the crucial work they perform, and how matter-of-fact they are about all that they do. Hurt has been with the department for 18 years, starting out as a dispatcher before applying for her current position.
Before that, she served in the Army as a military policeman, and had planned on a 20-year career before “life happened.” (At one point, she also wanted to become a schoolteacher but changed her mind after volunteering at a school).
Hurt works in the Sexual Assault Division and has seen more than her share of life’s ugliness.
“I love being able to help somebody,” she said simply. On the seamier side, she is the sex offender registrar for the area and often deals with three of four of them in a normal workday. The part she likes least about her job is the endless paperwork, while her favorite is solving a case, “because I know that there’s one less bad person out there.” Hurt also raised a daughter, who is now 20.
Scoggins is a nurse practitioner from the West Texas town of Big Spring.
She is the quintessential success story, who in high school was a 4.0 student with hopes of a full-ride scholarship offer to a four-year university, possibly to study medicine.
Instead, she found herself pregnant at 16.
If it weren’t for her doctor, who rhetorically asked, “so what are you going to do now?,” Scoggins said she would likely be in a very different place.
The doctor believed in her and pushed Scoggins to get her education despite her pregnancy.
Over many years — and while raising five children with her husband — she slowly but steadily became a nurse and finally a nurse practitioner.
While pursuing her master’s degree, she drove 2½ hours one way to the college. She lights up when talking about her job.
“I love to take care of patients,” she said. “You meet people at their ... most vulnerable—it’s a true gift.”
What Scoggins loves most about her career is “teaching a kid not to be scared.”
And unlike dramatic medical programs such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” she said most of her patients are just very sick.
“I tell everybody that I probably don’t have enough to fill a TV show,” she said, chuckling.
Killeen native Leighman has been a firefighter for about 15 years. During my visit with her, she demonstrated how to wear the 40-pound-plus gear that they are supposed to jump into in a scant 60 seconds. Like Hurt, Leighman began college wanting to teach school, but she became interested in Emergency Medical Training when a friend told her about it, getting her certification and subsequently attending Fire Academy and Paramedic School. She, like the other women, is committed to public service.
“As cheesy as it sounds, I like when we have those calls where you feel like you’ve really helped somebody,” she said. Besides fighting fires, Leighman has tended to people having heart attacks, dealt with traffic accidents and even delivered a baby.
“That’s what keeps me here,” she said, adding that the camaraderie of working in the tight-knit fire department is another factor. “These boys are my family—they are my brothers.” These three women are, in my book, the real definition of “heroes,” quietly going about their business without expecting fanfare or pats on the backs. The thing is, they deserve kudos for not only risking their lives (as Hurt and Leighman often do) but for simply continuing to show up, day in and day out, and performing the unglamorous but crucial work that most of us can’t — or don’t want to — do.