IN City's First Paramedic Leaves Legacy for EMS Workers

"He was the face of Mishawaka’s EMS system," said the city's EMS division chief about Michael Hargreaves, who died following an illness at 73.

South Bend Tribune, Ind.
Retired Mishawaka, IN, EMS paramedic Michael Hargreaves.
Retired Mishawaka, IN, EMS paramedic Michael Hargreaves.
Lakeville, IN, Volunteer Fire Department

MISHAWAKA, IN—After a career spanning 52 years in fire and emergency medical services, Michael Hargreaves died following an illness at the age of 73 on Friday. He leaves behind a legacy that includes serving as Mishawaka’s first paramedic and an instructor to thousands in northern Indiana.

“Mike put everybody else first,” said Lakeville Fire Chief George Shafer. “He’s a great guy, and he’ll be sorely missed.”

Hargreaves grew up in Michigan and loved hanging out at the local firehouse from a young age.

“Someone bought him a firefighter book called ‘Kerry the Fire Engine Dog’ and that started it all,” said Lori Lampert, Hargreaves’ daughter.

Hargreaves began his career as a firefighter near Lansing, but one of his biggest accomplishments, was realized in Mishawaka.

When former Mishawaka Mayor Margaret Prickett sought to create an ambulance service in the late 1970s, she turned to Hargreaves to create and run it.

“He was the first paramedic the city had,” Mishawaka EMS Division Chief Brian Thomas said.

According to Thomas, Hargreaves served as the city’s EMS chief and then its training chief before retiring in 2005, after EMS merged with the fire department.

“I’m not sure without his passion we’d be where we are today,” Thomas said. “He was the face of Mishawaka’s EMS system, I think people still associate EMS with him.”

Hargreaves worked as Memorial Hospital’s EMS coordinator before joining the Union-Lakeville department as an EMT. Until his retirement in 2016, Hargreaves also served as a training officer for the Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department.

“He taught on a level that would encompass beginners all the way to the educated person,” said Shafer. “The quality of training tremendously improved when Mike was with us.”

Throughout his career, Hargreaves trained “thousands and thousands” of people. According to Lampert, Hargreaves’ training was what he was most proud of.

“His ability to teach classes the way he did was phenomenal,” Lampert said. “I haven’t met anyone who took his class who didn’t remember taking his class.”

“He had an amazing passion for EMS and fire and instructing those who were to be in the field,” Thomas said. “I haven’t known anyone before or since who had his passion.”

Even as he battled cancer, Hargreaves didn’t stop giving. According to Thomas, Hargreaves wanted to give one of his kidneys to another firefighter.

“He would help anybody, he would give the shirt off his back if you needed it,” Thomas said.

According to a Tribune excerpt from Feb. 7, 2016, Hargreaves assisted in delivering 39 babies, worked around 550 fires, 500 CPR incidents and 15,000 ambulance calls.

When he wasn’t training first responders, those who knew him said Hargreaves loved to collect fire department memorabilia, listen to rock ‘n’ roll and had an interest in snakes.

“He was young at heart,” said Lampert. “He was a cool grandpa, a cool dad.”

Visitation will take place Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. at Hahn Funeral Home in Mishawaka, with a memorial service at 11 a.m. Saturday also at the funeral home.

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