24 August 2012

EMS - Just Want You to Know

At least 100 people had big roles in the founding and development of EMS in Marion County.  I can rattle off at least that many names, and point out how we can see their contributions in how the system works today.

It is one of the genuine highlights of my life that I’m just one of the people in the system over the years.

Forty-five years ago in Marion County and in most of the nation, EMS was very much hit-and-miss.  The people who came, if they came, were poorly trained or untrained, had poor equipment or no equipment, and were as likely to be driving a hearse as an ambulance.  “Success” was defined as eventually getting delivered alive to a hospital.

This is not even criticism of those days.  We as a society had not put either funding or thought into a pre-hospital care system.

Flash forward to today: This evening, I saw the system work up close.  LaJ’s father had a medical event at home early this evening. [End of story: Treated and released after a few hours.] Her sister called 911.  The operator at 911 followed the procedure that took exquisite pain to hack out years ago, but now consists of a few questions and a quick dispatch.  The local fire department and the more-distant rescue company station were toned out.  Both responded immediately.  Within a half hour, LaJ’s dad was in an ambulance and on the way to the hospital and the fire crew had gone back in service.

From the perspective of the system users - us - it was neat, quick and simple.  From the standpoint of the system providers, the call itself was simple, but getting the training to answer that and many, many other calls took a huge commitment. 

EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians) now have the equivalent of a college semester of training and THEN they get in the field and prove that they have the skills.  When I went through EMT training, it was a 120 hour course.

Paramedics now have the equivalent of 4 college semesters, and must be working in the field to get into the course in the first place.  There is no such creature as “just a paramedic student.”  My course?  One college semester.  They carry drugs now that I’ve never heard of (few of which are of interest to the druggie community) and can administer them with protocols that do not require real-time physician direction.

Lots of people serve their fellow man in lots of ways.  These brothers and sisters in the EMS/Fire community are among the most dedicated.

Just wanted you to know.

1 comment:

Jim N said...

Hey Roger,

As you know, my wife and I are taking care of a family member in our home, and twice in the last three months, we have had to call for EMS services. These first responders are absolutely the best in terms of both skill and care. I think I've mentioned to you before about attending an event in Huntington that was organized simply to say "Thank You" to the first responders of that town. It was a very stirring occasion in which city officials, religious leaders and local citizens expressed deep gratitude for these wonderful service providers. It's good that you remind us from time to time of the importance of such services in maintaining community health and well being. I do wonder if such a community gathering to say "Thanks" might be in order for our town. If I could help with such an endeavor, let me know.