Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You’ve got a friend

Just call 911

Angels do walk among us. Some of them travel in ambulances.

May 16-22 has been designated EMS week for 2010. Emergency Medical Service folk honor us with their skill, compassion and service 24/7 every day of the year. They deserve more than a week of recognition.

Goochland is blessed with a competent, caring and committed corps of volunteers who give freely of their time and talents to help their fellow citizens, often at the expense of time with their own families. They leave warm, safe beds to go in harm’s way to help someone in distress.

Last year, a handful of career (paid) providers was hired by the county to augment our volunteers, most of whom work outside the county, during daytime weekday hours to ensure that there is minimal EMS coverage in Goochland. Given our current fiscal woes, it will be a very long time, if ever, before the county can afford a fully career department.

Our volunteers work closely with the career staff, often making up combination crews to staff more ambulances. Even so, there are too many times when all available crews are tied up with emergencies.

We tend to meet EMS crews including drivers, emergency medical technicians, advanced life support providers and paramedics on the worst days of our lives.

They see us sick and broken and use their skill to make a bad day better. All too often, we don’t even bother to thank them for saving our lives.

EMS providers, including Goochland volunteers, must complete rigorous training before they are “cut loose” to care for patients on their own.

More than 120 hours of classroom and practical training in addition to rotations in local emergency rooms must be completed before an entry level EMT can sit for the state certification test, the same test required of career agencies in neighboring jurisdictions. Then they must work under the watchful eye of a seasoned provider for some on- the-job orientation.

Some of our volunteers work as career fire-medics in other places and share their skill and experience in Goochland on days off.

Goochland Fire-Rescue, it’s all under the same roof in the county, has an excellent reputation for high standards that are the equal of career organizations. Visit any fire-rescue station and check out the awards for excellence on display.

If you see and EMS provider this week give them a hug and say “thank you” even if you’ve never had the benefit of their assistance. You probably will someday.

Better yet, consider taking an EMT class or becoming a volunteer driver. Your reward is the satisfaction of a job well done and making a bad day better for someone in need.

Training is free to all members of one of the county’s six fire-rescue company. Stop in and meet your local volunteers, or call 556-5304 to learn more. Wings are optional.

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