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Yuma observing national EMS week
Tones sounded at every Rural/Metro Fire Department station Monday morning, getting the attention of all the firefighters. Instead of an emergency call for a fire or a car crash though, what they heard was the voice of 9-1-1 Dispatcher Shelly Goodman.
“Good morning. Rural Metro would like to thank you for the hard work and dedication you put forth daily. Happy EMS Week,” Goodman said.
May 15-21 is National Emergency Medical Services Week (or EMS Week). This year's theme is “Everyday Heroes.” The week is set aside to recognize those who work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer the call of those in need and to honor the dedication they display in providing lifesaving services as medicine's front line. The first EMS Week was proclaimed in 1974 by President Gerald R. Ford.
The week is also a time to focus on safety and injury prevention, critical care issues, and the partnership between the public and EMS professionals.
“You have to be a special person to do what they do,” Goodman said of EMTs and paramedics. “They aren't looking for glory. They do it because it is what they want to do. It is a life calling to them.”
Emergency medical personnel includes communications personnel who are the first to hear from those in need, and the dispatch paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who respond to the sick and injured. EMS personnel also includes those who transport the sick and injured to medical facilities and the medical personnel on duty in hospital emergency rooms.
The Yuma Fire Department also held a short ceremony at Station 3, in which Yuma Mayor Al Krieger read a proclamation to kick off the start of EMS week, thanking and recognizing all the caring men and women who are only a phone call away.
“It recognizes the folks who do the work of emergency medical services,” Krieger said of the weeklong celebration. “It goes from the first person you call, the dispatcher, which is extremely important, so that they can identify what the emergency is, to the first responders, the people who show up and treat you.”
“It is nice to be honored because it is a difficult job at times,” said YFD paramedic Adrian Aust. “It is nice that we have a moment to recognize the hard work we put in.”
Garrett Kobayashi, a first-year paramedic at Rural/Metro, said as first responders, they do much more than put patients in the back of ambulances and take them to the hospital. He said it is about bringing care and life-saving treatment to someone who needs it, and it is a recognition they share with many others.
“We aren't really thought about until we are needed,” said Kobayashi, who works out of Rural/Metro's Station 9. “Emergency medical service is not just about the paramedics. It is a team effort. It is about everyone from the time the call comes in until the person is treated at the hospital.”
Although it is a stressful and at times emotionally difficult job, Kobayashi said he enjoys the day-to-day challenges, which motivates him to be the best he can be. He added that being a paramedic is something he has worked for since he was 15 years old.
“At any given time you can be going out to a fire to picking up someone stranded in the desert to taking a grandmother to the hospital,” Kobayashi said. “It is something I get a lot of personal satisfaction from. It has been a privilege.”
Aust was recognized by fellow firefighters as the YFD's Paramedic of the Year during the ceremony, while John Anderson was named the EMT of the Year, and Gabrielle Trevino the Emergency Medical Dispatcher of the Year.
Both Aust and Anderson, according to the nominations, were chosen because of their dedication to always providing their patients with the best possible care.
“His performance on a daily basis reflects his high level of knowledge, skills and abilities,” Aust's nomination said. “He leads through example in his positive attitude both on scene and in the fire station.”
Anderson's nomination read, “He is known for consistently going above and beyond in his duties. John is recognized as having a thirst for knowledge, seeking new ways to provide quality care.”
Both Kobayashi and Aust spoke about the amount of training and continuing education that emergency medical service personnel put in to “be able to do their jobs.”
As a 9-1-1 dispatcher, Goodman says they know to expect the unexpected in their line of work. On a busy day dispatchers at Rural/Metro can handle anywhere between 30 and 40 emergency calls, with that number doubling during the winter months.â€¨“During the winter months the phones ring constantly,” said Goodman, who has been a 9-1-1 dispatcher for nine and a half years, even delivering a baby.
Goodman said one of the hardest parts of their job is when the person calling is upset and unable to help their loved one.
“Sometimes they are just like hurry up and get here,” Goodman said. “When you are in the middle of an emergency, it can seem like an eternity.”
Krieger may have summed up the dedication of those in emergency services the best by say the reason they do it is because, “it is in their hearts.”