Last week, Greensburg Mayor Gary Herbert made a proclamation that May 19 to 25 would be EMS appreciation week in Decatur County, in conjunction with national EMS appreciation week.
When a life is on the line after an accident or illness, the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) is who shows up to help.
Be it a car accident, a fire, flood, or some other disaster, EMS workers have saved thousands upon thousands of lives.
It's been said that it takes a special person to put their personal welfare aside and run toward disaster in the hopes of saving a life, rather than away from it in fear. Nationwide, communities are going out of their way to show appreciation to the brave men and women that staff local EMS crews.
In Decatur County, Doug Banks is the Director of Emergency Services from Decatur County Memorial Hospital, with a staff of 30 members. He oversees three crews, who work 24-hour shifts every third day in teams of six, responding to emergencies throughout the county. He said that EMS appreciation week is nice for the workers because it opens the public’s eyes as to what they do and why they do it. He went on to say that it was not a thankless job, but he and other EMS workers enjoy letting the public see what the job means to them.
This year, the helicopter service that serves the area visited Tuesday and brought a hot meal to the EMS workers. Over the next three days, the County Fire Association will be feeding all three shifts of workers to show their appreciation for all the Decatur County EMS crews do.
Banks recently received a call from a woman he and his crew helped save and he said the call meant a lot to him. Rarely do EMS workers get to hear about how the people they’ve helped are doing. HIPAA laws prevent them from calling to check up on patients, so after they leave the ambulance, it’s usually the last EMS workers hear of them. Banks stated that hearing from people after they’ve recovered can easily make an EMS crew member’s day. "Knowing our training and actions have made a difference is a wonderful thing for them to hear, especially during a rough day," Banks said.
Many Decatur County residents have a story about how an EMS crew member saved their life or responded during a moment of crisis. Banks said the best way to show appreciation this week would be to call and tell them how things turned out.
They can’t check on patients without breaking confidentiality laws, but EMS workers genuinely care about the outcomes for the people they assist.
Banks said that several years ago, a crew he was on saved a man who was gravely injured in an accident to the point where EMS workers weren’t sure he would survive. After delivering the injured man to the hospital, workers were sure that they would never see him again, even if he did make it. They returned to their jobs, only able to dedicate a passing thought to the injured man as they continued their efforts to save others.
Several weeks later, the man came to visit the EMS headquarters to thank the crew. EMS workers didn’t recognize him because they see so many faces, but as soon as he described his accident, the crew knew exactly who he was.
Workers were shocked to see him recovered and walking, but they were far more elated. Knowing that he not only survived but was thriving was wonderful news for the crew, which happened to be the same one that had responded to his emergency. In this case, EMS workers were able to see firsthand the result of their training and actions - the continued life of a man who otherwise would likely not have lived.
Banks said the crews he oversees have constant training to keep up to date with advancements in medical technology. Recently, the Decatur County EMS was able to purchase portable heart monitors that allow ambulances to transmit signals from the ambulances to the emergency room. This allows the hospital to prepare for patients before their arrival and helps tremendously with treatment, both in the field and at the hospital, because of the improved communication. The new addition should help save many people and increase their chances of recovery after an emergency.
While most people don’t think about EMS crews until they are needed, the crews are always thinking of ways to improve response time and effectiveness to better aid the communities they serve. During this week of appreciation, if you’ve got a story of how you were helped by an EMS crew, take a moment to give them a call or send a letter to let them know how you are recovering from your emergency. Banks said knowing his actions and those of his dedicated staff have made a difference in someone's life is the best thanks they can get.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004