Cedar Hill Graduate Becomes Paramedic and Firefighter

When Cedar Hill High School Class of 2010 Graduate Meredith Thornton was in high school, friends may call her a ‘lifesaver’ for giving them a ride to school or collaborating on a school project.

These days, Thornton is quite literally a life saver as an Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic and Firefighter.

“Part of our training to be the calm in the storm – it’s something we talk about and to train our minds and bodies,” Thornton said. “We have to think clearly and know what we think is best in the situation.

Thornton said working as a paramedic during the COVID-19 Pandemic was especially challenging.

“As a department, we were very short staffed,” Thornton said.

Thornton, who graduated sixth in the Class of 2010 and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Abilene Christian University, wasn’t sure of a career path after college. A friend recommended EMT, and she explored it.

“It combines medicine with an untraditional job, where I’m not sitting in an office,” Thornton said.

Soon, Thornton discovered that the City of Dallas would pay for her to become an EMT if she also became a firefighter. The latter profession was never on her radar, said Thornton.

Thornton successfully completed the Dallas Fire Academy and worked as a firefighter. While she’s still certified to be a firefighter, she’s currently assigned as a paramedic.

“The Fire Academy was very much a physical challenge,” Thornton said. “You feel accomplished after you’ve done that. Becoming a firefighter is not something I really wanted to do, but I felt really accomplished by it.”

Thornton currently works 12 hour shifts as a paramedic and said that her strong Christian faith plays an important role in her job.

“Faith is a very important in my life,” Thornton said. “In a lot of ways, it helps me cope with a lot of the hard that I see in this job. It makes my heart break for a lot of the hard that I see. It helps me not lose my compassion for my patients. There have been multiple patients who have asked that I pray with them.”

Thornton’s faith is one reason she chose Abilene Christian over The University of Texas At Austin where she was also accepted.

“Our professors would pray over before a test, and we had professors who were Sunday School teachers or elders at my church,” Thornton said. “They would invite us to their homes for lunch or dinner on Saturdays.”

Thornton’s Cedar Hill roots run deep. She grew up in a Cedar Hill home built by her grandfather. Her father, Wes, is a fellow Cedar Hill High School Graduate and former CHHS Art Teacher, and her mother, Jane, is a former Cedar High School English Teacher who was recently named the 2021-2022 STRIVE Academy Teacher of the Year.

She started school at Plummer Elementary. Her father had been one of Rosa Belle Plummer’s scholars in the 1960s.

Thornton attended Joe Wilson Intermediate and Permenter Middle School, before Cedar Hill High School.

As one of the top scholars in the Class of 2010, Thornton was part of the “Night of Shining Stars” event and chose her mother as her Star Educator.

“it was so cool being in the same building as my mom as a scholar,” Thornton said. “I had a different perspective of how scholars look at teachers.  When you have that really strict teacher, you knew that she did that out of love for her scholars.”

Thornton competed in swimming and softball at CHHS and was part of the National Honor Society, Drama, Choir and Yearbook.

“When I got into high school, I had Kay Walker as an English Teacher,” Thornton said. “She taught my dad twice when he was a kid, and they taught together as teachers. My mom taught with her. Having her as a teacher was so fun. My Art Teacher, Linda Martin, had my dad as a scholar, and they taught and went to graduate school together.”

Thornton said the Top 15 Scholars in the Class of 2010 were all very competitive with one another.