Letter to the Editor

EMS: More than a job; a calling

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dear Editor,

Each day, Citizens rely on emergency medical service (EMS) systems to help them in their hour of greatest need. In McCook and across Southwest Nebraska, we should take comfort in knowing that well trained, caring men and women are only a phone call away from treating injuries sustained in a car crash, responding to a cardiac emergency, or helping a child with asthma breathe easier. When accidents or illnesses strike unexpectedly, EMS personnel are the first on the scene, and their timely actions often make a difference between life and death.

EMS: "More Than A Job. A Calling" is the 2012 theme for EMS Week, reflecting the idea that EMS practitioners don't choose this field for big salaries, comfortable working conditions, or 9-to-5 hours; they have a true calling to help and care for others in their hour of need.

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), paramedics, and first responders serve on the front lines of our health care and public health system. Working with them are many others whose dedication make the EMS system function, including emergency dispatchers, physicians, nurses, and researchers, as well as colleagues in the fire service and law enforcement. Our EMS system represents a community spirit at its best. Our personnel devote countless hours keeping our communities safe.

National EMS Week, May 20-26, is designed to honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's "front line."

To become an EMT requires between 120 and 150 hours of training followed by passing a National Registry written and practical exam. To become a Paramedic requires between 900-1100 hours of training followed by passing a National Registry written and practical exam.

In Southwest Nebraska there are several people who are certified EMTs and Paramedics that do not receive any compensation for their lifesaving services. Why do they do it? Most will tell you that they gain a deep feeling of self-satisfaction by providing a critical service to their local communities. It's a simple willingness to help others and a desire to give back to the community that they live in and serve.

Here in southwest Nebraska most towns rely strictly on volunteers to provide their Emergency Medical Services and fire protection. These men and women respond to calls for help at all times of the day and night and on holidays often times 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.

You know most of these people. They are your spouses, relatives, neighbors, friends, and co-workers. So, please 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."

These people provide excellent services every day under all kinds of circumstances. These EMS providers -- both volunteer and professional -- serve their communities with a service that can sometimes require personal sacrifice and risk.

Marc Harpham,

McCook Fire Chief

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