Father-daughter EMT duo makes saving lives a family business

For a father-daughter duo in the north Twin Cities metro area, helping others and saving lives is something of a family business.

The remarkable pair are members of Allina’s Emergency Medical Team based in Cambridge. They have more than 50 combined years of experience responding to calls from car accidents to gunshot victims.

“I always say, I don’t know how I could handle a desk job now,” said Alycia Simon, one of the EMTs.

Simons’ office has four wheels and is outfitted with all sorts of emergency medical gear.

While the veteran EMT never knows where a 12-hour shift will take her, along with the horrors or human tragedies that may await, Simons wouldn’t want it any other way.

“We’re life savers on every call,” she said. “We’re going to people who are having their worst day ever. And we are there to help them, get them calm. And that’s every call. So I think we’re life savers all the time.”

Lifesaver is a title Simons wears proudly and she shares it with her biggest fan.

“It’s very special to see that my daughter wanted to follow in my footsteps and doing what I’m doing,” said Bill Griep, an Allina EMT and Simons’ father.

The unique duo of first responders no longer lives under one roof, but depending on how the schedule falls, sometimes they find themselves paired together in the same ambulance.

“I know there’s a lot of husband and wives that work together, but fathers and daughters, they are probably out there, but not that I know of,” Griep said.

“I enjoy it. It’s fun,” Simons said of working with her dad. “Some days he gets on my nerves, so we haven’t worked together in a long time, but we have in the past. He always gives me some crap because he says I drive to work, I make the lunches and pack the lunches and I drive at work. And you don’t want to work with me anymore.”

Kidding aside, the pair traces the family business of helping others in distress back to Griep’s childhood and his favorite TV show “Emergency.”

The popular 1970s drama inspired Griep to join the St. Francis Fire Department right out of high school, eventually leading him to his nearly four-decade run as a paramedic.

In September 2015, Griep put all of that training and experience to work when he and his then partner raced into a burning home in Oak Grove to rescue an elderly woman who had fallen amid flames and heavy smoke.

They had no protective gear, yet they saved a woman named Lilian Anderson. Anderson’s neighbor later told FOX 9 she would never forget the heroism and bravery she witnessed that day.

“The man just started vomiting smoke. Smoke. Like throwing up smoke,” the neighbor recalled. “More smoke kept coming out. Amazing.”

For their actions, Griep and his partner were awarded prestigious national Carnegie Hero Medals.

“That was just in our nature,” he said. “Here to help people. We have to act. Duty to act. Just did.”

Given Griep’s selflessness, it was no surprise to anyone when his daughter recently rushed to the aide of two critically injured teens in St. Francis.

“I saw two girls laying on the ground,” Simons recalled. “I was just doing my job in that instinct, so you go and help.”

She wasn’t working that night, Nov. 20. In fact, she was off duty, caring for her father who had just undergone knee surgery, when she could see a commotion along Hwy. 47.

There, 14-year-olds Annie LaMotte and Kaia Bollman were struck crossing the busy road. The situation was dire.

With adrenaline pumping, Simons teamed up with two other Good Samaritans to provide CPR and other basic medical needs to the girls until emergency responders arrived with the critical life-saving equipment Simons is so accustomed to using.

Fortunately, the girls survived and their parents are eternally grateful.

A couple months later, LaMotte and Bollman have made huge strides in their recoveries and attended an emotional City Council meeting where Simons and others were honored with citizen awards for their November heroics.

“I’m excited the girls are doing very well,” Simons said. “That makes me feel very good. Makes me feel like I made a difference in someone’s life.”

A proud dad and partner, Griep was on hand as the two shared another one of life’s big moments, too.

“It’s very proud,” he said. “Have two daughters and a boy. Proud, proud, of all my children for this. Very proud. Help somebody, good outcome, she was part of it. Definitely proud.”

The two are razzed by their Allina colleagues that they are trying to out-do one another with the hero and life-saving awards.

Griep, who had just undergone surgery and was medicated when the girls were struck, basically had to be held back from assisting at that St. Francis scene.

Clearly, it’s a family with a shared commitment of helping others.