From teenage mother to EMT: Carter County resident finds success in helping people

Published 9:04 am Tuesday, November 26, 2019

By Brittnee Nave

A troubled childhood and a teenage pregnancy did not stop one Carter County Emergency Medical Service worker from achieving their dreams. It fueled them.

April Nave grew up in Carter County. Throughout her childhood, due to issues in her home, she would often run away, once running as far away as Florida. Each time Nave would end up at home again, once while handcuffed to a state trooper.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Nave said this was all to escape her home life. She finally achieved her escape at the age of 17 when she became pregnant with her first child. She promptly moved out and got an apartment in the Arney Hill apartment complex in Elizabethton. Nave gave birth to her daughter soon after.

She said the birth of her child was the push she needed to continue her education and have a better life.

“I got tired of sitting home,” she said. “When my daughter turned two, I would put her in a stroller and go for GED classes at a place called Alliance for Business and Training. I would walk all the way from Arney Hill to downtown. I was determined to better myself.”

Upon obtaining her GED, Nave decided to continue her education by becoming a nurse, and while studying to become a nurse, she fell in love with the idea of being an EMT.

“I wanted to be a nurse at first,” she said. “I was about two years into nursing school when some of my friends who worked on the ambulance wanted me to volunteer to work with them. I did it and I loved it. After that I dropped out of nursing school for EMT school.”

Nave, by then a mother of three and married, attended school while her then husband worked night shifts. Soon, she officially became an EMS worker, where she has been working for 15 years.

At first, she found that detaching from the calls she would get to be emotionally difficult, and something she would need to work on to do her job right.

“When you’re working EMS you try not to let your emotions get to you right then because you can’t do your job right,” she says. “You kind of just block everything out until it’s over with.”

According to Nave, there are still times cases can bring a tear to an EMT’s eye, and they do have an impact.

“Mostly all the cases have something to do with changing you in a certain way,” she said.

Despite the tough calls, however, Nave said she would not change her job for the world, and her EMT coworkers are more like her family.

“Ninety percent of the time we are with our coworkers,” she said. “Sometimes we see each other more than we see our own families. There are some who work 24-hour shifts…My little boy has seen nothing but EMS shirts since he was born.”

While the pay may not be extraordinary, Nave said her job is rewarding and something she would not change for the world.

Nave is now a mother, stepmother and grandmother in addition to being an EMT. She is also going back to school for social work to further her career in helping people.

In terms of how much she has changed from being a “wild-child” to an EMT, she says her eyes have opened wide.

“I see things now in kids that back then I didn’t,” she said. “I see things they’re doing that are now dangerous to me and I wonder how they’re still alive.”