A fighting spirit: Reflections of an inspiring 9/11 paramedic

By arhospice on July 12th, 2022

Arkansas Hospice patient Rebecca “Lynn” Luscomb knew long ago that she was meant to help people. That’s why she became a paramedic – and why she went to New York City in the aftermath of 9/11.


As a young adult, Lynn realized that working indoors was not for her.

“I was like four walls is not my forte,” she explained. “But being out and about and being able to help people is.”

The best way she could do that, she decided, was as a first responder.

“Watching the paramedics come in there with the ambulances and the trauma and all that – I was hooked. I mean that was it,” she recalled. “I started the EMS [emergency medical services] program, and within a year and a half, I was a paramedic.” 

Lynn knew that she had found her calling.

“It was getting my hands in those wounds. Getting my hands dirty, as you would say. Getting them out of those crumpled up vehicles. That was my job,” she said. “That was what I did. And I didn’t think twice about it. I never really thought about my health or my possibly getting hurt. It never crossed my mind.”

Putting others before herself would continue to be a theme throughout Lynn’s life of service, especially in 2001.

Click the image link to view Lynn’s story about her passion for being a first responder and serving others.

“I’m not giving up. I’m not quitting. I’m not giving in. I’m a fighter. I’m not one to curl up in a corner. I’ll take each day I’m given whether it’s a good day or a bad day.”


On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks rocked the United States. Thousands of lives were lost when planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City; into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; and into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Soon afterward, Lynn traveled to New York City as part of a disaster medical assistance team named AR-1 DMAT.

“We left on September the 29th, I believe, and we were there for just over two weeks,” she recalled. “We were there to render aid to the workers that were still trying to get everything cleaned up. If somebody got hurt, somebody got burned, somebody had a heart attack, anything like that, we would take care of them. We had a full hospital set up.”

When asked what she remembered most about the experience, Lynn paused and reflected.

“Shock and awe,” she responded after taking a few moments. “It was the shock of seeing it when we first got off the bus there at ground zero and just the awe and the reverence.”

Her other biggest memory was the sense of unity – “how everybody had come together” – in the days and weeks immediately after 9/11.

“We weren’t a nation of this race, this race, this race,” Lynn explained moving her hands back and forth. “We were one nation at that time. We were one group at that time. And I miss that. But that’s one of the impressions that I really came back with … how everybody got along and did things so well.”


After a lifetime of helping others, Lynn chose to let Arkansas Hospice care for her, as she dealt with a serious illness.

One common misconception about hospice care is that it means giving up. Lynn, however, saw herself as a fighter – and hospice care as a tool to help her make the most of each day.

“Just like that Tim McGraw song, I’m going to live like I was dying,” she explained. “I’m not giving up. I’m not quitting. I’m not giving in. I’m a fighter. I’m not one to curl up in a corner. I’ll take each day I’m given whether it’s a good day or a bad day.”

Lynn made it clear that she was not in denial about her life-limiting diagnosis.

“I’m not avoiding the inevitable,” she clarified, thoughtfully. “I know what’s happening. But I’m here to do the best that I can with every day that I have left and to live every day that I have to the fullest. I just happen to know more of a timeframe where others don’t.”

Contacting Arkansas Hospice was an easy decision for Lynn.

“I knew who I was going to call,” she said. “As soon as I found out all the information and everything, it was like, ‘OK, who do I need to call? What do we do to get this started?’”

Still trying to help her fellow Arkansans, Lynn encouraged other patients facing the end of life to call Arkansas Hospice.

“Don’t be sitting there trying to fight through a phone book or anything else and calling fifteen-hundred different people trying to find out what you need,” Lynn implored. “That’s their job. That’s what hospice is there for – to make your life comfortable.”

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