Those who knew EMT Ryan Hubbard say his selflessness was second to none.
Jennifer Poff Cooper
One could hardly find a more multi-faceted individual with a myriad of interests and skills than Ryan Hubbard.
He was not just a volunteer at Christiansburg Rescue Squad, he was also a professional paramedic, a dance enthusiast, a member of the Civil Air Patrol, an Eagle Scout, a member of the 501st Legion and a Hokie. Hubbard, 31, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, Sept. 9.
A resident of Christiansburg at the time of death, Hubbard grew up in Collinsville and graduated from Fieldale-Collinsville High School in 2004. He earned higher degrees from Virginia Tech and Jefferson College of Health Sciences, and was considering furthering his education with some sort of advanced medical degree.
In fact, Christiansburg Rescue Chief Joe Coyle said he was surprised that, with Hubbard’s thirst for knowledge, he had not already headed to medical school.
Hubbard originally wanted to be an astronaut – thus his BS Aerospace Engineering – but his passion for patient care led him to become a full-time emergency responder. He was a volunteer EMT and captain at Christiansburg Rescue Squad and a professional paramedic at Carilion.
“Captain Hubbard was one of a kind. He touched everyone he ever encountered and made a positive difference on us all. He was admired for his tenacity and his quirkiness. He loved his patients, his fellow EMS providers, his family and his EKGs,” fellow volunteer Sara Vallejo posted on the rescue squad’s Facebook page, a passage which was read at Hubbard’s memorial service.
Former Captain Jason Poff explained the EKG comment by saying Hubbard brought such a desire for knowledge, attention to detail, and mastery of skill to his jobs that he saved and studied EKG (electrocardiogram) printouts – some were even found in his house after his death –when most rescue personnel would trash them after a call was over.
Hubbard was elected by the membership of the Christiansburg Rescue Squad to be a Captain, working 50-60 hours per week on top of his paid paramedic job.
Poff said Hubbard didn’t care about the money differential between what he could have been earning as an engineer and what he earned as an emergency responder.
“He was literally a rocket scientist,” said Coyle, but cared so much about the patients that he gave up a career with NASA to become a paramedic.
Hubbard liked the night shift, said Poff, because that was when the toughest calls came in. He wanted to be in the place he was most needed.
“He was super dedicated,” Poff said. “Ryan went all the way with whatever it was.”
Coyle said that Hubbard both took good care of his patients with his technical skills, and truly cared about his patients.
Hubbard built a rapport and followed up with patients, hallmarks of a good EMS provider.
“You can’t teach that kind of compassion,” said Coyle.
Coyle recalled that Hubbard won numerous performance awards. Among them, he received a STEMI Challenge Coin, which is based on strict criteria in getting heart patients to the catheterization lab quickly. He also had a Verified Code Save, meaning he brought back a patient from the brink of death that also survived and was discharged from the hospital. The Civil Air Patrol also gave Hubbard an award for saving a choking person.
Hubbard had an “infectious positive personality,” said Coyle. After watching a patient die because no one around him had known CPR, Hubbard developed the character “Captain Take Heart,” recalled Poff. Poff’s wife made him a cape and he promoted CPR education throughout the community.
Hubbard was also an avid Star Wars fan and spent much of his free time as a Storm Trooper. He was part of the 501st Legion, a global costuming organization that also engages in charitable works. Members do “troops,” or make appearances upon request.
Adrienne Hubbard, wife of Ryan’s cousin, Sean, said that as a new member, Ryan Hubbard did close to 50 troops – almost as many as a senior member.
“He was always super excited to go out and volunteer his time to share his love of Star Wars and put a smile on everyone’s face,” said James Dye, a brother in the 501st Legion.
Poff recalled that Hubbard visited Adventure Clubs in the local elementary schools in the “uncomfortable uniform” that was the Storm Trooper, sometimes before school at 6:30 a.m.
Adrienne Hubbard mentioned that Ryan Hubbard often visited children in the hospital, cheering them with his visit time and his costume.
She also explained that the ribbon the Christiansburg Rescue Squad is wearing as a memorial combines Ryan Hubbard’s call number with a light saber. This epitomized his two great loves, emergency medicine and Star Wars.
On Nov. 4, Hubbard’s birthday, there were to be two troops: at Virginia Tech and at the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs hockey game. The Dawgs’ game troop will now serve as a memorial to Hubbard.
Coyle called Hubbard’s impact on the community significant. “He touched hundreds of lives.”
Poff grieves his loss of a friend, and also the “loss for the future” of all the things Hubbard still had left to accomplish.