Paramedic Cheryl Marty Retires After 40 Years

Lt. Joe Miller, firefighter/paramedics Zach Moore, Cheryl Marty and Nick Wismer, and firefighter EMT Tyler Wepler stand in front of the Life Squad 9 unit at Whitehouse Fire Department. Cheryl Marty, who has been on Life Squad 9 for several years, served her last day with the department on March 11, after more than 40 years as a first responder. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — For more than 40 years, paramedic Cheryl Marty has provided TLC to patients suffering from medical ailments and injuries, but there’s one task she’s not yet accomplished.

“I always wanted to deliver a baby. Maybe it will be today,” she laughed. “I want my stork’s pin.”

As the Whitehouse Fire Department and Life Squad 9 paramedic served her last shift on March 11, her fellow B shift team members – Lt. Joe Miller, firefighter/paramedics Zach Moore and Nick Wismer, and firefighter EMT Tyler Wepler – were in the kitchen, preparing her favorite meal of lamb gyros.

“I work with a bunch of nice guys. They’re all so young – I call them my little boys,” Cheryl said with a smile. “We have so much fun together. It’s a great, family-oriented group. We’re all very close. It’s going to be hard to leave.”

As a teen growing up in Whitehouse, Cheryl Strayer lived on the family’s Stiles Road farm, surrounded by fields that are now homes. One of those streets is named for her grandmother, Helen Drive. While her parents and grandparents are long gone, Cheryl said she’s surprised to still be asked by patients, “Are you a Strayer?”

“I don’t know how they can look at me and know that, but it’s rewarding to know that people remember our family,” she said, “and hopefully, it’s comforting to see someone they know.”

Her family knew many members of the Whitehouse Fire Department, including former chiefs Kenny Rupp and Daryl McNutt.

“I grew up with these guys. All my neighbors were on the fire department. I’d come here to the fire department and play water ball,” said Cheryl, a 1977 Anthony Wayne High School graduate. “I wanted to get on the department, but they didn’t take women.”

Her mom, Janet, while working as deputy registrar at the former Don Scott Chevrolet, met Virginia Davis, an EMS instructor for Swanton Rescue, and introduced her to Cheryl – who signed up to take classes to earn her EMT certification and become a volunteer.

Back then, Swanton’s EMS and fire departments were separate, divided by the railroad tracks in town. So, when Cheryl responded to an accident with other volunteer EMTs, she might have to use extrication tools. When her kids were young, Cheryl and another mom hired a babysitter to stay at the station with the kids when they were called out on a run. Eventually, Cheryl was hired part time and then full time, staying with Swanton for 30 years. During that time, the departments merged, and she earned certifications to become a firefighter and paramedic.

It was while working for Swanton Fire and Rescue that Cheryl earned her nickname, Spiffy.

“It’s because I would show up to events spiffed up,” she laughed. “It stuck and they started calling me Spiffy here, too.”

While still working for Swanton, Cheryl began working part time for Whitehouse, and in January 2008, she was hired on full time as a firefighter/paramedic. Since the pandemic, Cheryl has worked almost exclusively for the county’s Life Squad 9 unit, which is housed in Whitehouse.

Over the years, Cheryl said, she’s seen plenty of changes in the fire/EMS service, but thankfully ongoing training is provided through the county Life Squad and Whitehouse Fire.

“The medical field and medications are always changing, and fire is always changing too – knowing when it’s safe to go in and when it’s not,” she said. “We always have to be ready and thinking ahead. If someone is having chest pains, we have to be prepared in case it turns into cardiac arrest.”

With changes in the county Life Squad system looming, and with assurance from the Police and Fire-fighters Retirement Fund that she would have insurance and retirement, Cheryl said she knew it was time to officially retire. She won’t be gone from the first responder community, entirely, however – after 60 days, she can come back and fill in some shifts. She’ll also continue working for Dr. Mark Becker, a Holland dentist’s office where she’s worked for 47 years, utilizing her knowledge from Penta Career Center and an EFDA (expanded function dental assistance) certification from Case Western University.  

Most of all, though, she’ll take advantage of retirement to spend more time with her grandchildren, Carson, Maizy and Madelyn.

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