COVINGTON, Va. – Beating out bigger teams with bigger budgets, a local volunteer rescue squad is proving its worth. Covington took home a state title, earning notoriety as the best in the Commonwealth at saving lives as EMTs. It’s not just the trophy that makes this team special — all the members just happen to be family.
While it may be hard to imagine working with your immediate family members — the Markham’s love it. They admit it can be challenging at times, but they said they have formed a bond that helps them better treat patients.
“It’s almost like you know what the other one needs or is doing without them ever having to talk,” said Shane Markham, the family’s son. With a combined 95 years of experience, the Markham family volunteer EMTs with the Covington Volunteer Rescue Squad have seen it all together at work, and at home.
“It’s either in your blood or not. There is no in-between. I guess I had it in my blood,” said Roy Markham, the family’s father. He joined in 1984. It turns out, his wife Teresa Markham had it in her blood too. She joined in 1997 when her children were old enough for the couple to be able to leave out on calls together.
“I love it,” Teresa Markham said. “I just like helping people.” “I didn’t treat her any different than I would any other member,” Roy Markham said.
Those lifesaving skills were passed down to their two kids, Candace Hoke and Shane Markham.
“Mom and dad did it. Watching them go out over the years just grew on me. I said ‘I think I want to do this,”’ Hoke said. She started out with an interest in the medical field. She now works as a nurse. She’s been part of the rescue squad for 20 years. Like his sister, Shane joined the rescue squads junior program when he was 16.
“My mom, my dad did it, my sister did it. I was like well... let me give it a shot,” Shane said. “I’ve just stuck with it ever since.” He’s been a member for 15 years.
“Thank you’s are rare, but when you get one while you are out in the public, that’s when you know that you are in the right spot,” Shane Markham said. “It made it more rewarding. Doing it as a family. This is my squad family; they are my second family. But also doing it with my biological family...it just made it a little more special. It just took over. I love helping people,” Hoke said.
If you’re wondering what it was like at work after having family squabbles at home, the Markham’s said they have a rule to leave it at home.
“Oh no. You leave those behind. The whole time my kids were in, I told them you do not call me mom. I’m a member just like everybody else. You call me Teresa. That’s the only time I allowed them to call me by my first name,” Teresa Markham said.
They’ve made a lot of memories over the years, grieving together and saving lives together. The pains and joys of emergency medical work has been a shared family process.
“You’ve always got that support at home,” Hoke said. Each have competed on Covington’s team in the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads competition with other members throughout the years, but never all together. This year was different. Now sitting in their trophy hall of fame at Covington’s meeting hall is the squad’s first state championship for EMTs.
In uniform and by blood, this family was the right combination as a team to be recognized as the best in the Commonwealth.
“I’m so proud of this. We’ve worked so hard over the years to reach this moment,” Hoke said. “The fact that we were kin. it was like oh gosh it just makes it that much more special.”
“Like I said, it’s in the blood,” Roy Markham said. “It was exciting to win first place and all four of us ran together,” Teresa Markham said. A family that works together stays together, and as the Markham’s prove — can even save lives together.
Volunteerism in local rescue squads and fire departments isn’t as prevalent as it used to be. The decline in the number of people who volunteer is a nationwide issue. The Covington Volunteer Rescue squad is looking for more members to join their team or their junior program. If you are interested in being part of this award-winning lifesaving crew, you can reach out to them on Facebook.