Remember back in April when I was going on and on about National Telecommunicator Week and asking everyone to say thank you to the people behind the phones and radio consoles? Remember that? Good! Now I'm going to ask you to say thank you to the 750,000+ paramedics, EMTs, first responders, and other emergency medical personnel who provide day-to-day life-saving services on the medical "front lines" because this week marks the 34th Annual Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week.
The National Association for Emergency Physicians, who sponsors this week of recognition and honor, has given the week the theme of "Extraordinary People, Extraordinary Service". They feel the theme exemplifies the excellent services provided every day under all kinds of circumstances by the many EMS providers - both professional and volunteer - who serve their communities; service that can sometimes require personal sacrifice and risk.
Here in Connecticut there are a lot of towns that rely strictly on volunteers to provide their fire coverage and emergency medical services. These men and women respond to calls for help at all times of the day and night oftentimes leaving meals half eaten, warm beds on cold nights, or special family functions. They have acquired, maintain, and utilize the skills that are so vital in times of need and they don't hesitate to provide help when needed.
I work with an amazing group of people at American Ambulance. A good majority of them not only work professionally as paramedics and EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) but they volunteer with their local departments, too. Even if they've put in a long, hard day or night at their paid job running from call to call that I or one of my dispatch partners send them on, they're right there when the tones drop at their volunteer departments, willing to go that extra mile for someone who needs the type of help that they are skilled in giving.
I've always said that I know my place when it comes to ambulance service and that place is sitting right behind a console with a bank of computer screens, phones, and radios. I have neither the talent or the stomach to deal with medical emergencies. I am what's referred to as a "sympathy puker", if someone vomits in front of me chances are real good I'll join right in. I am a wimp. I am a wimp who can't ride backwards in a moving vehicle without getting extremely nauseated and in need of the very stretcher that the patient is lying on. I am a wimp who cannot look at broken bones without feeling like I'm going to pass out. I am a wimp with a bad back that couldn't lift a patient and load them into the back of the ambulance without requiring a trip to the ER myself.
But thank goodness that there are people in the world who don't have my shortcomings and can not only deal with these sorts of things but can jump right in and take action. Those people can provide pre-hospital care that can make the difference between life and death as well as provide comfort and support to the patient and their families. They provide an invaluable service and I think it's only right that there be a week dedicated to them and the services that they provide.
So I ask you to please join me in saying thank you to the men and women who have answered this calling and who work tirelessly to save lives and limit suffering in all kinds of situations. I can't even begin to imagine the world without them and I bet you can't either.