UPDATE: October 19 was Cotton’s last day on a truck. He decided to step down as a volunteer, but remains a beloved member of the CCEMS family. A special presentation was made to Cotton on December 14th.
Editor’s Note: Channel 13 saw our little story and Facebook post on Cotton Weaver and decided his story deserved a bigger audience. I wholeheartedly agree. The story aired on September 1, 2015. Here’s the video followed by the original story that got KTRK’s attention in the first place. Thanks to Channel 13 photographer Francisco Barragan, who did a masterful job shooting and editing the story.
Cotton Weaver. It sounds like a job description in the textile industry.
But, at Cypress Creek EMS that name is nearing legendary proportions. Cotton Weaver has lived on the same property in Spring for 75 years and is a long time medic who has been both volunteer and paid staff. His knowledge of the area is so complete that in the years before GPS, dispatchers used to call him to find out how to get to a location that they couldn’t find on the map.
But, that’s not all. Not even close. In addition to serving 33 years at CCEMS, Cotton Weaver has been a member of the Spring Volunteer Fire Department for 62 years and (perhaps this should have been mentioned first) he’s been married to the same woman for 63 years. It’ll be 64 on January 5, 2016.
At 83 years of age, he has not divorced himself from any of those endeavors. He’s still on the volunteer roster at the Spring Volunteer Fire Department. He still volunteers as an EMT at Cypress Creek about twice a month and he’s still married to Barbara, who was actually a CCEMS volunteer for five years before Cotton joined.
But ask what he does for fun and he’ll tell you being an EMT. “I just love helping people,” he says. Cotton is about to renew his Texas EMT certification and vows that he is “going to die with an EMT certification.” So far, though, he’s fought off every health issue that’s been thrown at him.
Recently, I rode with Cotton and Field Supervisor Joe Kiff. We answered a call at a nursing home where many of the residents are, no doubt, younger than Cotton. That’s kind of unusual when you think about it, so I asked Cotton what was the strangest call he ever responded to.
Without hesitation, he told me about a railroad employee who lost both of his legs. It seems he’d dropped his light and it landed under a rail car. He went after it just as the train moved and the wheels sliced off both of his legs. Cotton says there was no bleeding because the wheels somehow sealed the man’s arteries, and we haven’t even gotten to the strange part, yet.
So, here it is. Cotton says when he reached the man, he had pulled himself up into the sitting position and was leaning against a wheel, calmly smoking a cigarette.
Spend any time with Cotton at all and you’ll hear a lot of stories, jokes and witty rejoinders. You’ll also gain some wisdom. The most important advice he says he can give to young medics is to keep themselves safe. He says, “There are a lot of diseases out there, so medics always need to wear gloves and glasses to protect themselves.”
As you might have guessed, Cotton is a nickname. He earned it years ago because of the color of his hair. As it turns out, though, he really needed a good nickname because his real name is……wait for it……….
Wilbur Waldo Weaver.
Cotton and his wife, Barbara, have three children, 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Up until he was 80 years old, Cotton worked more than 30 hours a week at CCEMS and continued to drive an ambulance.
These days he works as a volunteer (24 hours a month) and rides along with a CCEMS field supervisor.