Between May 15th through May 21st, communities and medical personnel come together to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day life saving of emergency medicine’s “front line.”  May 18th is a day set aside as Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Day.  FEMA regional Administrator Ken Murphy states that this is all about celebrating EMS providers – first responders, hospitals, emergency physicians and public health providers, with this year’s theme, “Everyday Heroes.” 

We citizens may take this front line of emergency medicine for granted, not fully understanding how much training and preparation has to be done to take care of us in an emergency situation.  Ambulances with trained staff, as well as our fire departments, police, and other agencies are on location quickly.  Some EMT’s and paramedics work with airplane and helicopter transports and are highly trained to keep patients stable until they reach a trauma unit for further care.  First responders serve not only those in cities and communities, but are stationed at remote sites such as offshore oil rigs.  They offer stand-by services at events such as concerts and ballgames.  Paramedics teach first aid courses to both company employees and individuals.  This enables all of us to be better prepared in times of emergencies. 

Our lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) and paramedics.  These professionals see various types of injuries, resulting from heart attacks, slips and falls, automobile accidents or gunshot wounds, requiring immediate medical attention.  EMT’s and paramedics assess the nature of the patient’s condition, and determine what emergency care is needed while they transport the patient to a medical facility.  

The EMT-Basic represents the first level of the emergency medical team.  He/she is prepared through training to care for patients at the scene of an accident and while transporting patients by ambulance to the hospital under the direction of more highly trained medical personnel.  They have the skills to assess a patient’s condition and manage respiratory, cardiac and trauma emergencies.  These EMT-Basics know how to use and maintain common emergency equipment, such as backboards, suction devices, splints, oxygen delivery systems, and stretchers.  Once they have graduated from approved training programs, they must pass a written and practical examination administered by the State licensing agency or the NREMT. 

The EMT-Intermediate level has training requirements that vary by state.  Typically, this level requires 30 to 350 hours of training based on scope of practice.  They learn advanced skills such as the use of advanced airway devices, intravenous fluids, and some medications. 

Paramedic is the most advanced level of training for this occupation.  This level of caregiver has received training in anatomy and physiology, as well as advanced medical skills.  This training is most commonly conducted in community colleges and technical schools, which may result in an associate degree.  These programs may take up to one to two years.  Paramedics may become supervisors, managers, administrative directors, or executive directors of emergency services.  Some EMT’s and paramedics become instructors, or physician assistants.  

Hopefully, this week, you will stop and think about the important role our emergency medical providers play in our lives.  These folks are required to do much kneeling, bending and heavy lifting.  They are at a higher risk for contacting illnesses or experiencing injuries on the job.  Many times, they work long hours, and the work is not only strenuous but can be very stressful.  Their services are required 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  When you get a chance, say “Thank You” to a first responder for what they do. 

This article is dedicated to David, our son-in-law, who has been a Paramedic for years.  He was an executive director of pre-hospital services for a large Texas hospital prior to starting his own medical transport service.  A very knowledgeable and caring person, he truly is an “Everyday Hero.”


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