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Bubby Bish has saved countless lives after making promise to his mamma

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Edward "Bubby" Bish is a man of his word. The Director of Operations at Southside Virginia Emergency Crew has kept a promise for half a century. A decision that has defined his life and saved many others.

The Petersburg native started volunteering when he was just 16 years old.

"I joined the Emergency Crew February 4, 1967," he said. "And I’ve been here ever since and I’ve enjoyed every minute."

"Bubby" Bish at 16

"Bubby" Bish at 16

Bubby answered calls from cuts to car wrecks for most of the 51 years -- for no pay. The married father of two said he felt it was his duty to help people in need -- across Petersburg. While volunteering at the squad, Bubby worked in the Colonial Heights and Petersburg school systems.

Bubby's first responders respond to nearly 7,000 emergencies a year.

"Bubby" Bish

"Bubby" Bish

“It is all teamwork. No one can do it by themselves,” Bubby said. "We will respond to any patient any way we can."

Two moments still resonate with Bubby.

A police gun battle on May 20, 1987 on Corling Street. A suspect shoots at and injures two police officers.

Bubby was standing right in the middle of the violence.

"It was remarkable. Yes, there were two officers hurt, but it could have been a lot worse. A lot worse,” Bubby said. “I can remember that like it happened yesterday.”

Bubby also spent days in northern Virginia after 9/11.

He said he does not keep working for the accolades that line his wall.

"This is nice and I really appreciate it, the people thinking of me, but I do it from my heart and I do it because my momma told me to,” Bubby said.

"Bubby" Bish

"Bubby" Bish

Which brings us back to that decades old promise he made. At age four, Bubby nearly lost his life suffering from Bronchial Pneumonia.

"I was choking to death basically,” Bubby said.

Volunteers with this same squad saved his life.

“When the Emergency Crew arrived I was almost blue in color from not being able to breathe. She thought I was going to die. That is what I thought,” Bubby said.

From that day on, Blanche Bish made her young son promise to return the favor.

“She is always there. Yes. She is always there,” Bubby said.

This self-described Momma’s boy signed up when he was old enough.

Family photo

“She expected us to go to school. She expected us to try hard and be successful. And she has been my drive for many, many years,” Bubby said.

Reflecting on his illustrious career, this EMT would not change a thing.

“You’ll never get wealthy doing this by financial, but in your heart and soul you’ll always be a millionaire,” Bubby said.

Bubby Bish. A man who keeps his word and obeys his Momma.

“I just hope and pray that I’ve just made an impact on someone’s life to a better life,” he said. “I always wanted her to be proud. I never wanted to think I was a failure. That was my goal in life.”

Watch CBS 6 News at 6 p.m. Thursdays for Greg McQuade's "Heroes Among Us" reports. If you know of someone CBS 6 should should feature, email heroes@wtvr.com