At 50 years of age, many people are looking forward to retirement and taking life easy, perhaps traveling or pursuing a hobby. Not Edna Mitchell.

At 50, not only was Mitchell not retired from her career in public education, she began volunteering as an emergency medical technician with the Liberty Ambulance Service, which covers primarily Liberty and Montville. Now 82, her work with the ambulance service has become virtually a second career, and she’s still a valued member of the crew.

Born in Boothbay, Mitchell moved to Connecticut with her family when she was very young, but returned to the Midcoast region when she was 10, living in Liberty, where her parents were teachers. Since then, she said, she has lived “right in this neighborhood,” though the home she and her husband, Elmin, share now is in nearby Montville.

She has a son who lives in Freedom and owns a roofing business that he runs with one of his daughters, she said. She is proud of the fact that two of her grandchildren have followed in her footsteps as EMTs.

Mitchell came by her interest in emergency medicine though her parents: during World War II, they took a first aid course, and she studied along with them. When it came time for the test, she also took it, and scored higher than anyone else in the class. Later she took a home nursing class and some Red Cross classes. She has volunteered with the Red Cross at disaster scenes, including in Florida after it had been hit by multiple hurricanes several years ago, she said.

Also like her parents, Mitchell was a teacher for many years, starting in 1955 in Montville, where she had nine grades in one room. “The kids were so good,” she said, “the older ones looked after the younger ones.” She and her students would take turns bringing food for a hot lunch, she remembered. In addition, she was the janitor for the school and drove the school bus. All told, she made $1,700 her first year.

She also taught in Knox and Liberty, was principal of the elementary school in Palermo — it was during this time that she started volunteering with the ambulance service — and finished her teaching career teaching eighth-grade math at Mount View in Thorndike. During a hiatus from teaching, she worked for Waldo County Committee for Social Action, the social-service agency that was the predecessor of Waldo Community Action Partners.

In addition, Mitchell was the emergency management director for Waldo County for a couple of years and has also worked for Spectrum Generations.

Having started her ambulance work 32 years ago, Mitchell said, “My ambulance number is one of the lower ones in the state now.” Each crew member has a unique number, so that they can be easily identified by radio. In her more than three decades of volunteering, she has seen the training for volunteers become much more sophisticated.

At first, she said, the training was similar to a first aid course; the ambulance service didn’t even have EMTs. Now, Mitchell and her fellow EMTs can treat trauma; monitor, but not start, an intravenous line for fluids, blood or medication, check a patient’s blood glucose and administer oxygen. These days, the service also has a paramedic, who can perform more advanced tasks, like starting an IV line.

EMTs must be relicensed every three years, Mitchell said, and the ambulance service will pay for new volunteers to be trained. She said last year she had gone on 83 runs, second only to Ambulance Chief Steve Chapin, who went on 84.

She still goes out on both day and night calls and calls the work, “my social life.” She enjoys the camaraderie with other volunteers, as well as meeting the patients, many of whom she knows. “Sometimes it’s scary and sometimes it’s funny,” she said. “It kind of gets your adrenaline going.”

And of course the ambulance goes out in all weathers. Mitchell recalled runs when the ambulance had to have a snowplow go ahead of it to make the road passable.

She told about one call to a mobile home on a snowy night. The patient asked her, “What’s an old woman like you doing out on a night like this?” Her reply was dryly pragmatic: “You want to go to the hospital or not?”

Another night, her husband’s sister was driving near to where Mitchell and her husband live and was hit by a drunken driver and killed. Mitchell was on the call. She said she had known her sister-in-law by the feel of her hair. “It was a bad night,” she said.

The one thing she is not too fond of about working on the ambulance service is the paperwork, which she said required a lot of patience. Other than that, she would encourage others to try it. She said a good volunteer is “someone [who] is doing it because they like to.”

Last year, Mitchell said, the ambulance service celebrated its 40th anniversary. At the celebration, she was given a plaque in honor of her years of service. “I was so surprised,” she said.

In addition to her ambulance work, for almost 20 years Mitchell has helped organize a reunion open to anyone who went to school in Liberty that is held biennially in even-numbered years. She said she would like to get some younger alums interested in working on the event, which is held the last Sunday in July — this year, July 25. Anyone who would like to help should call her at 589-4285.

Liberty Ambulance Chief Steve Chapin said to be a good EMT, “You have to care about people, you need to know medicine and understand the priorities: good patient care and helping people out.” He called Mitchell “down-to-earth, honest, hard-working,” and added that, “Edna’s probably one of the best people I’ve ever met.”