Marsha Morrell has announced her decision to retire following 37 years of dedicated service to Century Ambulance and the local healthcare community. Marsha will retire from her full-time role on October 22, but she will continue to assist on a part-time basis during the ensuing transition period.
Marsha has played an essential role at Century Ambulance from the beginning, providing the company’s first transport on May 5, 1981, from a residence to a hospital emergency department. In years since, Marsha transitioned from hands-on patient care to utilizing operational and relationship management skills which have been hugely beneficial to the growth of Century Ambulance. Her EMS and business development experience as well as leadership skills helped make Century Ambulance what it is today.
Marsha has served as Chairperson for First Coast EMS Advisory Council and has held chairperson roles for Emergency Medical Review Committee, First Coast Disaster Council, First Coast STEMI Data and Registry Program. She has also been recognized with several awards including the Mark Fingeret Award for Excellence in EMS Leadership (July 2016), Jacksonville Business Journal Healthcare Heroes Award (October 2013) and Emergency Management Volunteer of the Year Award (2002/2003). She currently holds her paramedic license and graduated from University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Health.
The story of Century Ambulance, and Marsha’s career, is best told from Marsha’s perspective:
Century’s office was originally located on Cesery Blvd. in Arlington. We shared a building with a pest control company. In 1983, we moved to 624 Goodwin St., which was renovated from a battery store to our present ambulance building. After the fleet became larger and we needed more room, dispatch and the business office were moved to our present supply building. The other three houses, adjacent to that, were purchased individually as time passed. Our Corporate Office was opened in what is now Miller Electric Building and remained there until the fall of 2016 when the corporate office was relocated to the Herschel St. location. Century originally was privately owned until it was acquired by New Heritage Capital in September 2015. It has grown astronomically since then.
Century had two BLS units (Unit 1 and Unit 2) in the beginning. We were required to wash our truck every shift and hand wax it weekly; we now have over 70 ambulances. There was no “chores” list; if it needed to be done, you did it. Century began as a BLS service with four full-time employees working on a 24-hour truck and a “day” truck; we now have over 430 employees. The original “day“ truck stayed on duty until the call volume slowed down enough for the 24-hour truck to handle it alone. It was everyone’s responsibility to be certain the company was a success!
“Jacksonville Rescue Department” personnel were utilized as part-timers or to “backfill” when someone needed to be off. There were only seven rescue units in Jacksonville at that time. Half of the rescues were stationed at hospitals. There were two other private ambulance providers – one was failing. There were no helicopters, trauma centers, children’s hospitals or free-standing emergency departments. There was no Century dispatch and calls came directly to our office phone. When everyone was on a call, the number rolled over to an answering service. On weekends and certain night shifts, each employee had to “take turns” having the calls rolled over to their home number. They were now promoted to dispatch status!
What has always been our success is the staff and their care for the clients and patients. If you have ever had surgery, you recognize how vulnerable you are once you enter the healthcare arena. If you have ever been unfortunate enough to have your child, spouse or parent lying before you on a stretcher, you understand how helpless it makes you feel. Even the simplest BLS discharge/transfer of your parent or grandparent causes great anxiety. We should always remember that the patient is someone’s loved one and you are there in a time of need. My grandmother taught me a saying that I try to live by personally and professionally. I think it really applies to EMS: “When a job is once begun, be it great or be it small, do it well or not at all.”
Please continue the wonderful legacy of Century Ambulance. You are making a difference in someone’s life every dispatch, billing invoice, training, inspection and transport.
We couldn’t have said it any better, Marsha, and we cannot thank you enough for the years of dedicated service and leadership!