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story.lead_photo.caption Members of the Cole County EMS show the t-shirts they'll be wearing during October to help raise awareness about breast cancer, which is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Pictured from left to right are: paramedic Natalie Schlieder, Chief Eric Hoy, Battalion Chief Gretchen Bodley, paramedic Sam Gibson, EMT Austin Luebbert and paramedic Mike Shirts. Pictured in front is EMT Jessica Wieberg. (Jeff Haldiman photo)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the Cole County EMS will honor those who are battling the most common cancer for women in the United States as well as those who have recovered or succumbed to the disease.

The staff purchased special uniforms (t-shirts/sweatshirts) with the proceeds going toward breast cancer awareness; they will be wearing them in the community throughout this month.

Paramedic Natalie Schlieder initiated and coordinated the awareness effort, which they hoped to do last year.

“We had the pandemic to deal with so we decided we’d wait,” Schlieder said. “When we did start ordering the shirts, we had so many orders that we were able to donate around $1,000 for breast cancer awareness since we not only ordered for ourselves, but also family and friends.”

Breast cancer has affected many members of the EMS staff, Schlieder said.

“My grandmother survived breast cancer last year, and we have several employees who have family members who survived. So it hits home for a lot of people,” she said.

Being in health care, Schlieder said, it’s important to have a passion for your work and hopefully when people see these shirts they’ll know the EMS service is passionate about helping the people in the county.

“It’s a hard time to be in health care right now, and it would be very difficult if you didn’t have a passion for it,” Schlieder said. “We want people to know we do have that passion.”

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