EMT dies in line of duty

Published 10:33 am Thursday, March 10, 2016

GATESVILLE – Gates County Rescue and EMS members are mourning the loss of one of their own.

GCREMS staff member Steven Toppin, 53, a resident of Gates, died in the line of duty Tuesday while assisting his Paramedic partner at a 911 call where they were attending to a critical diabetic patient, according to GCREMS Chief Stormy Butts.

“Steve suddenly complained of shortness of breath and collapsed. Paramedics rushed him to Roanoke Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie where he was pronounced dead of a cardiac arrest,” Chief Butts said in a press release sent Tuesday evening.

Steve Toppin

Steve Toppin

During a telephone interview conducted Wednesday, Butts referenced Toppin as “a great public servant.”

“He was always willing to help, day or night,” Butts noted. “He was a full-time member of our EMT team and then volunteered on the rescue side when needed.”

Butts said Toppin’s career with GCREMS began in the 1970’s when he was still in high school and joined the Juniors (EMT) Program. Upon graduating from high school, Toppin was placed on the GCREMS official roster in 1980 and remained until 1986.

Toppin’s service-oriented lifestyle led him to join the U.S. Navy in 1986 where he served his country for 22 years.

Upon retiring from the Navy, Toppin returned home and worked alongside his business partner, George Parker, at the barber shop in downtown Gatesville. He also rejoined GCREMS in 2007 and served there until 2012 at which time he went to work for Chowan County EMS for a little over one year.

“He came back to us again in 2014 and picked up right where he left off here at GCREMS,” stated Butts.

“He was very well liked by the staff here; we’re all like one big family,” Butts added. “His untimely death on Tuesday leaves a big hole here in our department. His shoes will be hard to fill.

“Steve’s family and GCREMS staff wish to thank all of our partner agencies that have offered assistance in this difficult time. Please keep Steve’s family in your prayers in the coming days and weeks; funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date,” Butts concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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