Darius grew up in Huntington, West Virginia and was a junior firefighter at a local Volunteer Fire Department. After high school graduation, he headed West to California for adventure, school, and — later — work as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Darius’ father’s untimely death inspired the beginnings of an EMT career. “After my father passed, I recalled what made me want to become an EMT with Green Valley — I was a junior at the time in 2009,” said Darius. “We ran a call — it was one of my first five calls I’ve ever ran in my life. It was an overdose, and I watched the EMTs bring him back with ease and they just said: ‘Oh, it’s easy. It’s this, so no problem.’ That’s always stuck with me so I always wanted to give it a shot, and thought why not now?”

Working as an EMT in Los Angeles, Darius encountered many ups and downs, traumatic experiences, and trials. The critical care transport, traumatic injuries, and medical emergencies he dealt with for work had an impact on his well-being, as many first responders face these difficulties. On top of work stress, he was about to face more complications with his family.

He remembers it like it was yesterday. While working a critical care hospital transport with a patient, Darius missed seven phone calls from a dear family friend. Once able, Darius returned the call and learned his mother was in the hospital.

At that time, 2016, the 24-year-old Darius had to move back home to care for his mother, who had suffered a stroke and developed an onset of chronic dementia.

“It was new,” Darius said. “I’d never had to do something like this before.”

After his mother spent a month in the hospital, Darius tried his best to care for her with some assistance from home health until the time when she declined in health rapidly causing him to put her in a long term care facility. Thankfully, his mother had long-term care insurance which still covered the majority of the costs of that facility (along with Darius having to pay out-of-pocket as well).

Luckily for Darius, West Virginia Medicaid was there for him as he tried to care for his mother and family situation. Medicaid provided Darius the mental health care coverage, general physical assessments, and occasional emergency visits he needed as an adult.

Even now, Medicaid still protects him as he has joined the ranks of the many West Virginia small business owners. Darius taught himself to weld during the transition back to West Virginia and is now doing “non-certifiable custom fabrication welding and woodworking.”

Thank you to our partners at West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.