BRISTOL, Va. (AP) — Some days Susan Knickerbocker is a nurse, other days she is a mounted patrol officer, and by night she owns a horse motel.
Miss Knickerbocker, 56, has devoted her life to helping others by serving the community as a registered nurse, paramedic, mounted officer and owner of a horse stable that offers short-term boarding for people traveling with horses.
As a child in a military family, she moved often, and after graduating from Virginia Intermont College with a degree in law enforcement, she settled in Bristol.
She became a nurse after many years as an emergency medical technician.
“After becoming a full-time medic in 1984, I worked as an [emergency medical technician] for 20 years and let my license expire in 2004 because I was burned out,” Miss Knickerbocker said. “It was just a logical progression to become a nurse after being a medic for so long.”
Miss Knickerbocker had become a nurse in 1995 and fell back on that as a career. However, she kept her basic paramedic license and now evaluates local EMT classes training for state certification. She has helped train many firefighters and paramedics, including fathers and sons.
“I’m almost on my third generation of firefighters and paramedics,” Miss Knickerbocker said. “Children of people I worked with are now full-blown paramedics, and I have had a hand in training a lot of them.”
It was not until she attended an event at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., that she found a way to use her degree. Miss Knickerbocker noticed a female police officer working the event on horseback.
“I thought: There is two worlds of mine right there with a police officer on a horse,” she said. “This was sometime in the ‘80s, and there wasn’t anything like that around here.”
A short time later, Sullivan County started a mounted division. When Miss Knickerbocker inquired about the job, Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson asked her to join.
Three or four years later, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office began its own mounted patrol. With Miss Knickerbocker living in Bristol, it was only natural that she shift to Washington County.
Miss Knickerbocker is still an active member of the Washington County mounted patrol and participates in activities with the department. She also assists the Sullivan County patrol at NASCAR events at Bristol Motor Speedway. She does demonstrations at schools and assists police at events where crowd control is an issue.
“I have also received my mounted police instructor’s certificate, so I do some teaching,” Miss Knickerbocker said. “I have also branched out to civilians and done some desensitization and despooking clinics for horse owners.”
Today, she continues her work as a nurse at the Bristol Surgery Center, an ambulatory surgery center. Additionally, Miss Knickerbocker volunteers with the Crossroads Medical Mission.
She recently started her own business a horse motel on her 50-acre farm off Exit 7. Miss Knickerbocker caters to people traveling to shows with their horses and needing a place to stay for the night.
Horses stay in the barn, and owners can sleep in their trucks, as most of them are traveling in big rigs, or at a nearby hotel.
“I really enjoy the horse motel because of the diverse people I get to meet,” Miss Knickerbocker said. “It’s not a huge moneymaker, but I have met a lot of people and keep in touch with them.”