Friday, October 31, 2014

Remembering Debbie: Students, Instructors Pay Tribute to Student

Debbie Miller
Upbeat. Bubbly. Unwaveringly supportive.

Those are just a few of the descriptors Debbie Miller's classmates and instructors used to describe her personality.

Miller, a paramedic student at Vol State, was killed early Tuesday morning following a motorcycle crash in Lebanon. She is survived by her three children, Tasha Nichole Miller, Morgan Lea Miller, and John Thomas Miller; significant other Lisa Gibson; sister Brenda Evans; niece Savanna Evans; and nephew Joseph Evans.

A registered nurse since the mid-90s, Miller became a part of the Vol State family in 2013 after becoming interested in the school's Emergency Medical Technician program. She graduated from the EMT certificate program in the fall of 2013, and was working her way through the 2014-2015 paramedic cohort.

"The way Debbie lived her life, there was no halfway. When she came in here, she wasn't going to stop at EMT, so that's why she brought a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of experience to the program," director of EMS education Robert Davis said.

Miller spent a large part of her nursing career at the Alvin C. York Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Murfreesboro. Her experience in the emergency room brought a different level of learning to the classes she was taking at Vol State, and her thirst for knowledge helped keep her peers on their feet.

"I remember on the first day of class when we all introduced ourselves, that was her big thing. She kept saying she was back to learn. She was rather adventurous and a grab-life-by-the-horns type of person," paramedic student Rachel Cotter said.

Fellow students, such as Emily Weeks, said Miller's impossibly upbeat personality kept everyone laughing even when things became stressful, plus Weeks always appreciated the things she could learn from someone with Miller's experience in the emergency room.

"It was awesome, because she had a lot of different insight because the EMS world is a little different than the emergency room, and a lot of us don't get to see that side of it. She was able to share a lot of experiences, so it was really neat to learn that aspect of the emergency medical services," Weeks said.

In memory of Miller, Weeks and her fellow students are getting a patch made for their uniforms, which they will wear throughout the remainder of their time in the program. The patch features Miller's name wrapped in a black ribbon around the Star of Life.
The Debbie Miller memorial patch.
The patch will be a reminder of Miller's legacy as she and the rest of her class work towards their goal of graduating from the program.

"We know that as much as she wanted to finish, she would want all of us to finish and get through, so we're going to try and carry her through that way," Cotter said.

As with any tragic loss, Miller's death hasn't truly sunk in with the school yet, and EMS instructor Art Bratcher said she is going to be missed dearly.

"Everybody is still in such a state of disbelief that we really haven't processed that she's not here anymore. It's a hit to all of us. She was already a professional, so people looked up to her. There was a lot to learn from her experience," he said.

Funeral services for Miller will be provided by Woodfin Chapel in Murfreesboro. Services will be conducted Sunday, with visitation beginning at 1 p.m., followed by a memorial service at 3 p.m. Online condolences can be sent to the family at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful tribute for a truly wonderful person.