Rose Pelzel, First Woman To Become A Paramedic, Retires After 50 Years

It started off as a dare to see if a 21-year-old housekeeper had what it took to be an EMT/first responder, Marielle Mohs reports (2:12). WCCO 4 News At 6 - April 1, 2021

Video Transcript

- It started off as a dare to see if a 21-year-old housekeeper had what it took to be an EMT first responder.

- Rose Pelzel accepted that challenge, and now 50 years later she is retiring this week with the longest standing career as a paramedic in the country. She's also the first woman to do the job. WCCO's Marielle Mohs shares her historic career.

ROSE PELZEL: At the time, it was obvious they were very hesitant to have a woman out there--

MARIELLE MOHS: Rose Pelzel convinced hospital management, back in 1971, to give her a chance. She was a 21-year-old with basic first aid training, a passion to help others, and resilience.

ROSE PELZEL: I was young and strong. I grew up with five boys and all that wrestling paid off, I guess.

MARIELLE MOHS: EMTs and paramedics always team up to respond to emergencies and Pelzel never asked her male counterparts to do any work for her, but it was public perception she had to work against.

ROSE PELZEL: Bringing a patient into a hospital, the assumption was I was a family member, so I was always asked to step out of the room.

MARIELLE MOHS: Over the years the gender ratio at M Health Fairview has evened out, and Pelzel took it upon herself to be a mentor to those coming in. She'd been given a front row seat to both tragedy and miracles. Her favorites, helping save a young Eagen boy's life after he nearly drowned in a pool three years ago.

ROSE PELZEL: The dad thanked me for saving his son's life, and just look on his face of appreciation. And that he was so close to losing his son. That was the moment for me that I know it couldn't get better.

MARIELLE MOHS: As she rounding the corner of retirement, Pelzel never expected to finish her 50 years in this field saving lives in a pandemic, but she's learned you can never stop learning.

ROSE PELZEL: There's no time when you can say, I've seen it all because you haven't.

MARIELLE MOHS: Now she walks away, ready to see more of what she still hasn't. In St. Paul, Marielle Mohs, WCCO4 News.

- In retirement, Rose plans to focus on being a mother, a grandmother, and friend. She's already in training for alternative healing practices. It's her next journey in a life dedicated to helping others.