CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – If you’ve been to a testing event or vaccination clinic in Kanawha County, West Virginia, chances are you’ve seen Monica Mason in action. She’s been one of the leaders in the fight against COVID-19. She has done it with the support of a team and family that she holds close to her heart.

Taking care of people is something Mason loves to do. She became a Registered Nurse in 1997 after graduating from Winfield High School and then the University of Charleston. She left the area with her husband soon after.

“We were a youngly married Navy family and we were sent to Pensacola, FL. It was our first station as my husband was going through pilot training school,” Mason said.

In every state they moved to she found work as a cardiac nurse eventually getting her Nurse Practitioner Certification in 2001.

Their family was able to move back to the Mountain State in 2016. That is when she started her work in education and clinical services for the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority.

“When I did it, I instantly fell in love with EMS, and I’m so happy that I am where I am today,” she said.

In March 2020, she found herself on the front lines of a battle she never expected to fight, serving as part of the medical team in Kanawha County who would set the standard in the response to COVID-19.

“We were able to be a part of where things are today in Kanawha County,” Mason said. “We helped to support the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department from the very beginning of day one activities that needed to happen to protect our first responders, to make sure that when it was time to start testing we were out in our communities and offering COVID-19 testing. Then we moved into vaccination and that is where we are today.”

She helped with the first massive COVID testing mission in a Kanawha County nursing home.

“We assembled a small response team to go into the nursing home and to test each of those residents. I, myself, was able to go in that day and, definitely it was something to see. It was something to be a part of because it was the beginning of the pandemic and it was how we were going to get ourselves out of the pandemic as well,” Mason said.

She was part of the team that developed policies and protocols not just for the public but for first responders.

“Basically what you see in Kanawha County, I think has probably been replicated across the United States. We did a lot of things first. We were quick to get testing out into our communities by going into that nursing home on that first day, then we just kept expanding from that. We then came to the table and figured out what can we do next. We started our first drive-thru here at the supply bay at Kanawha County Ambulance,” Mason said. “So, then it was just taking a small model and then expanding on it to no matter where we went in our community we could take the concept and then grow it to meet the specific community needs that we had to meet.”

During that time, Mason also stepped in to fill the role of Executive Director at the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority. She worked more than 500 days without a day off. It wasn’t easy on her family but they supported her the entire time.

“They are adaptive, and they have been for all of their lives. The twins are 17, getting ready to turn 18. Emma just turned 16. So they are very adaptable. Initially, it was dad who was gone. Then when it was mom’s turn to be gone day after day after day with the pandemic and work, they were very supportive. They pitched in at home and did extra things that needed to be done. But they were worried. They were afraid and also worried that I would bring something home to them. We just had to sit down and talk about it and go over the protections that were put in place,” Mason said.

She says she hopes her dedication to protecting the community will show her daughters their own strength.

“They are young women so I just want them to see the sky is the limit with what they can do professionally and I just want them to continue to grow and to take every opportunity that they have to continue to be women that serve their community,” Mason said. “I’ve learned a lot. I mean it is very humbling to see that you can give back to your communities at such a great time of need.”

Monica and her family are also active with the Gold Star Families program giving back to their community and people who have served their country.