Gratitude for EMS workers
That’s the number of times an American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance answered a 911 call last year in New Hampshire’s two busiest EMS systems in Manchester and Nashua. As we celebrate National Emergency Medical Services Week (May 19-25), I’d like to take a moment to salute my dedicated team of men and women who man these ambulances 24/7 every day of the year, through all kinds of weather, providing pre-hospital paramedic-level medicine for the nearly 200,000 people who call those cities home.
While AMR is an independent operator who contracts with these cities, our team of over a hundred highly-trained EMS professionals work hand-in-hand every day with our cities’ brave firefighters and police officers who act as first responders to life-threatening emergencies. Our medics are doing battle on the front lines of the opioid crisis, facing the grim reality of overdoses daily, sometimes hourly, but soldier on as they respond from call to call. Amid this unprecedented epidemic, these EMS professionals never waver. They may respond to an overdose at one location, and then off to attend to someone having difficulty breathing at another. Add in a couple of motor vehicle accidents, a Safe Station medical evaluation and several people who have fallen in their homes or require some other type of emergency medical attention — and any EMS provider will tell you it’s “just a regular day.”
While they’re often already on their way to a hospital by the time the press arrives to cover a tragic event, these caregivers commonly see some of the most heartbreaking things that our society has to offer. EMS workers, as a whole, are compassionate, clinically skilled and trusted with some of the most intimate medical information that a person in need could possibly have. They train hard, often, and are required to continually meet stringent competency standards. On one call, they may be dealing with a complex life or death matter requiring a high-level of medical knowledge, and then provide a comforting word or just hold the hand of someone desperately in need on the next.
Our paramedics also have precise working knowledge of the cities they serve, safely navigating the sometimes bumpy and always crowded streets to get to their patients in seven minutes or less, transporting them to the hospital, if necessary, via the fastest route possible. They assess and manage the problems they find and administer care in their 10,000-pound emergency room onsite and/or on the way to the hospital. Working in two person teams, they often go unnoticed waiting in pre-assigned spots around the city, strategically posted so they can answer calls faster during peak demand periods.
At the end of their shift, they all go home to become a part of the communities that they serve, always looking out for the safety of the people within them.
‘Beyond the Call’ is the theme of National EMS Week 2019. EMS Week brings together local communities and medical personnel to honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine’s “front line.” Please join me in recognizing and celebrating the important contributions our EMS practitioners, who go above and beyond every day to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of our communities.
Chris Stawasz is Nationally Registered Paramedic and the Regional Director for American Medical Response in New Hampshire.