Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Borough responder earns State award

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Friday, November 21, 2008

The Governor's Council on Emergency Medical Services on Sat. named Virgie Hartley-McKeown the EMS Provider of the Year.

Virgie is an EMT II with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and has worked here for 15 years. She has worked in patient care for 40 years.

"Virgie is always willing to respond to help others no matter the time of day or night," said Clint Vardeman, Deputy Director of Emergency Services. "She is often scheduled to perform standby duties as well as excited to do community education. Her dedication and enthusiasm have helped the communities of Sunshine, Talkeetna and Willow over these many years."

Willow Fire Chief Lance Barve has sent Virgie out on many serious accidents.
"If I've got a critical, I send her to the patient,"  Barve said. "I trust her skills. I know she won't get rattled."

Houston and Willow Ambulance Chief Carol Johnston also described Virgie as cool-headed. "She's a good medic in the field, stays calm, and keeps others calm," Johnston said.

Virgie's family is also dedicated to emergency services. Her son Christian Hartley is an EMT I and a firefighter II. Her daughter-in-law Alma Hartley is an EMT I, and her late husband Tim McKeown was an EMT I. Her daughter, Carol Stater, worked for 20 years a LifeGuard dispatcher.

The presenter of the state award remarked on how Virgie's dedication to patient care survived personal grief on the job. Two years ago Virgie and husband, Tim McKeown, responded to an emergency call together. Tim fell to a heart attack. Virgie worked on him, performing CPR and using a defibrillator until other medics arrived. Her husband did not survive. Despite the personal trauma, Virgie returned to the field to help patients.

"There's a lot of good people who are deserving of this award," Virgie Hartley-McKeown said. "We're a team. We hold each other up. We take care of each other."

For more information call Clint Vardeman, Deputy Director of Emergency Services at 373-8804 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Ambulance Chief Carol Johnston's, cell 232-8849.