‘She was a bright light’: EMS community mourns loss of fellow first responder

Local News

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Local first responders are mourning the death of one of their own. 

Karen Giles, 59, of the 5600 block of West Creek Road in Amelia County, died in an accident Wednesday on Genito Road in Chesterfield. Giles was a member of the Amelia Emergency Squad and was involved with the Old Dominion EMS Alliance. 

The Amelia Emergency Squad tells 8News they were Karen Giles second family. She spent a lot of time volunteering, as Giles was devoted to caring for people and even motivated others to do the same. 

“She was a bright light around here. She lifted up spirits so people are having a hard time knowing that’s gone,” said John Menc, Karen’s student. 

Giles spent the last six years serving as a volunteer at the Amelia Emergency Squad. She also taught EMS classes at John Tyler Community College. 

“Karen was a fixer,” Menc said. “She saw a problem and she put those needs above hers and went ahead and fixed it.”

Sterling Price, President of  Amelia Emergency Squad said: “When you lose someone tragically, you don’t even have a chance to say goodbye.”

Price says his team is having a tough time dealing with this loss, but they hope Giles’ commitment to service motivates others. 

“To honor her would be to volunteer your services and get involved with your local rescue squad, just volunteer somewhere to help your community,” Price said. 

On Facebook, both organizations remembered the 30-year first responder veteran who relocated to Virginia in the 1990s and graduated from Longwood University. 

Amelia Emergency Squad: 

After relocating to Amelia, Karen joined both the Amelia Volunteer Fire Department and the Amelia Emergency Squad where she served as Training Officer. She also represented Amelia Emergency Squad within Planning District 14 of the Old Dominion EMS Alliance (ODEMSA).

Old Dominion Alliance:

It was in her role as a member of the ODEMSA CISM Team that she taught us all how to behave in times like this – we rely on one another and support each other when difficult times are upon us. We will safely keep our memories of her, each memory dipped in love and wrapped in the joy of knowing she was our friend and a true champion of EMS. Our memories, of her contributions to EMS, will forever be reflected in the many lives she touched as a provider.

Police said a 1999 Ford F-Series dump truck was traveling on Genito Road when it went partially off the road. The driver overcorrected, crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a 2009 Honda Accord operated by Giles. 

She died at the scene.

The family of Karen Giles, Meredith Spies, thanked the community for their support: 

We thank the community for the kind words of support and love during this difficult time. The outpouring of fond memories from her family in EMS is a testament to who my mother really was-a woman whose passion was caring for others.  

She devoted her career and her life to helping others on their worst days, and to teaching others how to do the same. My mother would encourage all people, especially women, to follow their dreams of joining EMS, regardless of age.  

We personally appreciate the help of the Amelia Emergency Squad during this time, as we only come to realize the full legacy that my mother has left.  

To help support the Karen E. Giles Memorial Fund, click here

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