SHAPLEIGH – Susan Hludik, a dedicated paramedic who served as director of Wells Emergency Medical Services for more than 20 years, died Thursday after a brief fight against lung cancer. She was 61.

Ms. Hludik worked as a paramedic in Wells for the past 32 years. She rose through the ranks and became director of Wells EMS when it formed in 1990. She was said to be one of the first female paramedics to work in the state.

Ms. Hludik was remembered by her colleagues Monday as a caring, honest and hardworking woman, who was dedicated to helping Wells EMS become a first-class paramedic service.

Jay Bradshaw, director of Maine EMS, said Ms. Hludik was active at the state level. He said she served on many committees and participated in countless professional development trainings.

“She was very committed to making sure the service was well-poised to taking care of its community,” Bradshaw said. “She got involved whenever there were issues going on at the state level that would have an impact in Wells. This is a huge loss. It’s a particularly tough loss for that service and for the state of Maine.”

For most paramedics at Wells EMS, Ms. Hludik was more than a boss — she was a beloved friend, a trusted adviser, and a second mother to many.

Christopher Pare, acting assistant director of Wells EMS, said she was an honest, caring, and non-judgmental person, who treated the paramedics she worked with like members of her own family.

Pare, who knew Ms. Hludik since he was a kid, said everyone called her “Mama Sue.”

“Sue was a constant presence in everyone’s life,” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without her guidance and encouragement. I’ll miss being able to speak to her about anything. She would give me encouragement when I needed it, and a boot when I needed it, too. That’s the part I’ll miss the most. I could go to her about anything and get the right response.”

Brian Watkins, acting director of Wells EMS, said Ms. Hludik was instrumental in helping the department to become what it is today. He noted her ability to balance her role as director with the many friendships she had within the department.

“She made it the great company it is now,” Watkins said. “Sue taught us to work together and that’s what everyone is doing right now to keep this place moving forward.”

On Wednesday, paramedics and public safety personnel will hold a procession beginning at 4 p.m. at Wells Junior High School on Post Road. The procession will end at Coastal House Convention Center for a celebration of Ms. Hludik’s life.

She is survived by her husband, John Hludik, and their three children.

Her obituary said she enjoyed gardening, kayaking and camping. Her daughter, Karen Hludik, of Wells, said she was an amazing mother and grandmother, who cared deeply about the community.

“(We) thought the world of her,” she said, noting the huge outpouring of support her family has received. “In the past few days, we have realized how many lives my mom has touched.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]