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Veteran working as paramedic creates special bond with military families

A veteran serving as a Paramedic in San Antonio has a skill set and ability to connect with other military members.

SAN ANTONIO — A veteran serving as a paramedic in San Antonio says his skill set and ability to connect with other military members has been an asset in the city's Mobile Integrated Healthcare program.

One of the families enrolled in the program says the bond has been special.

“I went through a lot of anxiety, panic attacks and I was calling the EMS 18 times in one month,” said Maria Ledesma. “So they were here every day.”

Maria Ledesma says chest pain, shortness of breath and body aches made her think she was having a heart attack.

The retired caterer thought the days ahead would mean relaxing with her husband. Instead, her days were filled with hospital visits.

"I had severe, severe anxiety, I could not breathe. I was going to pass out … it's like I'm dying. I had to go to the hospital,” said Ledesma. “Then when [Paramedic Popoy] started coming, he started calming me down."

Since joining the MIH program in March, Ledesma’s daily routine has made a 180.

She says finding out MIH Paramedic Deon Popoy is a veteran like her husband, adds a layer of comfort.

Click: Meet the MIH Paramedics

"They're great. They know what they're doing. They're very well trained," said Ledesma.

Popoy says his military training has proven useful in his role as a Paramedic.

“I think every MIH Paramedic should have the basic traits: bearing, courage, decisiveness, dependability, enthusiasm, endurance, initiative, integrity, judgment, justice, knowledge, loyalty, tact and unselfishness."

Popoy and the other Paramedics say their job isn't for everyone but for them, it's a chance to change lives.

Click: Woman with diabetes finds health breakthrough in MIH program

The MIH program runs through a referral process. First responders, community partners and doctors refer patients to enroll in the program. The MIH crews also are vital in the response and care for homeless individuals and in the fight against opioids.