When Melissa Trott Hall graduated from DHS in 1998, she was not clear about what she wanted to do next; and, for the next few years, she remained uncertain. But, she took an EMT class, and viola! she had found her niche. She says, “The action and the excitement of the unknown drew me into the career.”
From 2004-2006, Melissa attended the paramedic program at the University of Texas Health and Science Center at San Antonio and, upon graduation, applied with the Austin-Travis County EMS. She began her career there in January of 2007 as a paramedic. She subsequently became a Field Training Officer in the fall of 2011. In that role, Melissa trained new paramedics and EMTs.
In January of 2016, Melissa was promoted to Captain; then, in January of this year, she moved to the Designated Medical Officer position. Currently assigned to the Clinical Performance Management division, Melissa still enjoys being in the field and running 911 calls. “That will always be my favorite part of the job,” she explains. And, she adds, “There’s no better feeling than helping someone on their worst day, in their most awful moment.”
Melissa and her husband, Ryan Smith, who is a fire chief in Travis County, have a family of two teenagers – “his and hers”. Skyler Smith is 18 and recently graduated from McNeil High School. Allyson Hall – great-great-granddaughter of 101-year-old Thomas Littleton of Devine – will soon be 17 and will be a senior at Cedar Park High School in Cedar Park, TX in the fall.
Outside of work, traveling and spending time outdoors are two of Melissa’s favorite activities. A favorite trip to date is the one she took last summer to Boston and New York City with her daughter for her 16th birthday. She recalls standing in awe of Ellis Island and how her own ancestors came to this country and viewed that very island in hopes of a better future. Melissa was mesmerized by the Statue of Liberty as she reflected on its symbol of freedom. She says there are countless other sites and places she hopes to see, but for now, her next family trip will be to Alaska. “I’m excited about it already and am planning for it next summer.”
A sun-lover, Melissa says she gets outside as often as possible, “…whether it’s walking my dogs, or going to the lake to fish, or exploring a new hiking trail.” She shares that a hike up to Mt. Bonnell to watch the sunrise, or to Barton Springs pool, to Lady Bird Lake, to the Congress Bridge for the bat show, or fishing on nearby state park lakes are highlights of living in the Austin area. And, of course, she enjoys those outdoors activities most when spent with her family, “…going camping, catching a movie, or just enjoying new places to eat now and then….I rarely do anything that doesn’t include them.” (Some references from Ashleigh O’Connor of Meet-A-Medic)
Melissa says that not only are her children and Ryan big supporters, so are her parents, Doug and Donna Trott of Devine. She adds that her parents have always inspired her and that her dad “is the kindest man I know.” But, she quickly explains, “He was hard on me as a kid and taught me that this world owes me nothing… but it will give me everything if I work hard enough for it.” And, about her mom, Melissa states, “My mom is soft-spoken but tough as nails…. She’s had a lot of challenges in this life, but she has met them all with a strength I will forever hope to mirror.”
Melissa’s older brother, Jason Trott, is also a supporter and inspiration, cheering her on with new adventures. Jason lives in San Antonio and works at Chase Bank where he manages a department that trouble-shoots and sets up credit card accounts for corporations. Melissa says, “He always reminds me of what is important in life – family!” So, any time I get with him is special to me.”
Not only does Melissa serve her community as an EMT, she also contributes to her local community’s youth mentoring program, the Explorer Post 247. Through this youth program, which is associated with Boy Scouts of America, she gets to mentor up-and-coming medics, ages 14-21. She elaborates, “It’s been an amazing way to give back, and since my grandfather (her mom’s dad, Marvin Adamson) was involved in scouts his whole life (he was an Eagle Scout), I feel as though he would be proud of my involvement there.” Here Melissa humorously interjects for her mom’s sake that she hopes to inherit his scouting memorabilia!
Reflecting on the many reasons Melissa loves what she does and the path she has chosen, she says that her coworkers are like friends. “It’s important for me to work with people who feel like family.” In fact, she says that it was the friendships and relationships she built during paramedic school that “hooked me.” Although she had always been interested in some aspect of the medical field, she feels that any field other than the one she chose would not have given her that feeling of family closeness.
Melissa aspires to being promoted to the rank of Commander before she’ll be eligible to retire in January of 2030, “…which used to seem light-years away,” she quips, “but now is approaching more rapidly with every passing year.” And, as a footnote, she wants all her former classmates to reach out to her on FB, Instagram, or Snapchat. “Let’s get together,” she exclaims, adding, “Devine will always be the place I call home. Every time I visit it’s like pushing my reset button.”