Honoring EMS Teams: More Than a Job, a Calling
As National EMS week comes to a close, we remember those who arrive on scene first to administer life-saving emergency medical attention and bridge the gap between the accident scene and the emergency room.
You're driving along Interstate 43 and someone tries to sneak between yourself and the next car. They cut it just a little bit too close, tapping your front bumper, tipping you into a 70 mph spin. Next thing you know, you're trapped motionless in your car and hear sirens creeping in the background.
Why is the first thing you see a fire engine and not an ambulance?
Because every fire engine in the North Shore Fire Department is loaded with life-saving equipment and fully EMT certified fire fighters that bridge the gap between you being trapped in that car-wreck, and making it safely to the emergency room.
"Being an EMT or a paramedic is not an easy job, they see things that most people would never want to see," NSFD Chief Robert Whitaker said. "Stress levels can be high, but day in and day out they do their job and go above and beyond each time."
This week is National EMS week and across the country many fire departments are hosting events to shed light on their departments and bring awareness and appreciation to the EMS profession. This year's theme is "More than a job, a calling."
In Oakdale, MN, two fire department chiefs received Distinguished Service Awards at Regions Hospital’s 20th annual Rig Wash event, coinciding with National EMS week. In Woodbridge, VA, JFK Medical Center's President and CEO Ray Fredericks called EMS personnel, "The quiet heroes of health care."
Last year, 75 percent of the emergency calls for service NSFD received were people in need of medical attention, Whitaker said.
"Our responses for emergency medical calls for service range from assisting people who have fallen and simply cannot get back up to people who have stopped breathing and don't have a pulse," Whitaker said. "The Department always sends the closest available unit to a response since, in medical emergencies, especially life-threatening ones, the time to obtain medical care is imperative."
Randy Short had 11 other careers before becoming a firefighter at the age of 40. He said that being a fire fighter and also a paramedic isn't for everyone — you have to have compassion.
"It's out of a sense of making a difference of taking a chaotic scene, applying a team approach to mitigating the circumstances and your committed personally to help people," Short said. "Even though you have the stress of dealing with the situation, you know that you're helping out people in an emergency situation that otherwise wouldn't be able to care for themselves."
What does, "More than a job, a calling" mean to Short?
"It's a calling in the sense that you have to have the character and the compassion to deal with people in an emergency situation," Short said. "You have to be able to calm them down, help them out, and make them realize you're there to help them out and they can concentrate on getting better."