First responders from across Mid-Missouri came in large numbers Sunday to pay final respects to a beloved co-worker who was passionate about her job.
Emergency medical services workers and other public service officers were among 200-300 people at the funeral for Pam Carsten, who died at the age of 68 in a Dec. 30 car accident.
Dozens of public service vehicles lined up near Houser-Millard Family Chapels. After the funeral, they drove with their blue and red lights on to Hawthorn Memorial Gardens for the burial.
Carsten's brother, John Carsten, said it was "incredible" to see how much of a family EMS and first responders are to each other.
He said everyone in her family knew she was subject to leave family gatherings at a moment's notice.
"As a family, we all knew that intensity," he said. "We knew that she was always, if something came up, she was on call. It just shows that dedication and that heartfelt need to be out and save lives and rescue people. And she certainly got that from her father, who was in disaster services (for the) American Red Cross."
During the service, George Wright, the state commander for the Missouri EMS Funeral Team, presented a flag to Carsten's husband, Rich Gordon.
At the burial, Gordon acknowledged his wife was married to her job. However, he said: "It was worth the sacrifice to me. She made a difference."
Some members of Carsten's family choked up when a University of Missouri Staff for Life helicopter — the same one that flew Carsten to University Hospital after her wreck — did a flyover toward the end of the burial service.
"She was an outstanding public servant," Matthew Lindewirth, chief of Cole County EMS, said after the burial. "Obviously by the show of the individuals here, not only just her family and friends, but the EMS community, fire community, police, she was loved by everyone. She obviously made an impact during her 35 years."
The Rev. Tony Townley, a former Cole County EMS worker who worked with Carsten, officiated the funeral service, saying Carsten saw the good in others and knew she could make a difference with her career. She was never afraid to "step up to the call," he said.
Neither was she afraid to tell you what she thought.
Lucy Cole, who worked with Carsten for many years, said during the funeral service that Carsten's co-workers always ran to the EMS vehicles so they, not Carsten, could drive. One day, Carsten got in the driver's seat first and hit a bump while going above the speed limit to an accident scene.
Cole said, "Pam, what are you doing?" Carsten responded: "I'm getting to where I need to be."
Cole added: "She was one of the most special people in my life."