Wisper Salutes the Men and Women of EMS

EMS week May 15-21, 2022

Imagine meeting someone on the worst day of their lives.

This happens every day for hundreds of paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in small towns and big cities all over the country.

Everyone loves the stories of cops and firefighters, but the unsung “other” responders who have dedicated their lives to helping people are often overlooked. They are truly the first line of defense providing lifesaving care from a patient’s living room, the side of the road in a mangled car, and everywhere in between. They may be sick or injured themselves or looking on in horror as a family member is suffering.

The life of EMS is not as glamourous as the police and fire service. You do not see glossy tv shows highlighting their calls and when you do, they are not very realistic (trust me I rode the “boo boo bus” for 12 years).

We all know the iconic Ghostbusters (best movie of all time) phrase: “Who Ya Gonna Call?” We often joke if a situation arises where nobody knows who else to call, guess what, the ones who get that call are fire and EMS.

Those calls come at every hour of the day or night, rain, snow, or heat. In some cases, crews can run as many as 20 calls during a 24-hour shift on the ambulance. Yes, you read that right. In addition to patient care, add in cleaning the rig, paperwork, training, etc. There really is no “typical” day.

Throughout the nation and in the small towns and large cities Wisper Internet serves there are both private, municipal, fire department, and even volunteer-based EMS services. No matter where the work, training, and dedication are the same and it takes a special person to be in EMS. They don’t do it for the money. When I first joined EMS as a driver, I made $8 per call. When I got my EMT license I got a huge raise to $12 per call. We got paid two times a year. July and December.

Not all calls have a positive outcome, but always know everyone involved in EMS gives everything they have to treat patients and will carry those scars and memories with them for years to come just like their patients.

Each year in May, hospitals and other organizations celebrate National EMS Week. This year it happens to be May 15-21, and Wisper Internet wants to say a big thank you to all the EMS responders who give up their sleep, meals, holidays, and time to keep us safe.

In case you didn’t know, it takes months and years of training to get an EMT or medic license. There are state and national licenses which both must be renewed every couple of years and with that comes hours of continuing education. Not to mention new procedures, techniques, medicines, and equipment that is added to the lifesaving toolbox each year.

I remember my very first night in EMT class. The grizzled old medic, in her nicotine and coffee strained voice said: “You’re going to learn what you need to pass the test. And I’m going to teach you the way we really do it on the streets.” Absolutely true, and I have to admit I learned at least 80 percent of what I know from the other medics and EMTs I worked with for a dozen years.

The days of the “load and go” are long gone. Medics can do about everything in the back of an ambulance that can be done in an emergency room (except surgery of course). Medications, bandages, and fluids can be administered. Heart rhythms can be monitored and regulated and since the ambulances are all now equipped with internet, electrocardiograms can now be sent to emergency room personnel to have proper care waiting at the door when the truck arrives.

Communication is key in any medical emergency and in addition to phones and radios the internet is playing a larger role in EMS just like just about every other aspect of life.

EMS can find locations easier with the help of Computer Aided Dispatching (CAD). Dispatchers can also use CAD to provide patient updates while the truck is en route and when the call is over, crews can simply upload their reports via the internet connections to the bases and the hospitals.

Don’t get me wrong, EMS is not all doom and gloom. There are lots of calls with happy conclusions and there can be a lot of humor (both light and dark) in the job. One afternoon, we had a small fender bender in front of the high school in my village. The teenage patient wasn’t hurt, simply scared and shaken up a bit. We trauma packaged her just in case and while she was on the backboard in the rig, I attempted to ease her fears a bit.

I asked her if it was her first time in an ambulance. Holding back her tears she said yes it was. I smiled at her and told her that was good since it was my first time in the back of an ambulance too. As you can guess her eyes got as big as silver dollars. The uncontrollable snickering of my medic let the cat out of the bag and a big smile flashed across her face and tears turned to laughter. She was fine.

Thank you to everyone riding the rigs!