Why the Emergency Services Deserve our thanks

The tone at the station goes off. The EMTs and paramedics jump into the ambulance and speed off. The EMTs and paramedics just found out they are responding to a man in cardiac arrest. The adrenaline rush is pumping. These people are our street savers.

The Emergency Medical Services is a service that provides out-of-hospital acute care and transport to definitive care to patients with illnesses and injuries. The EMS system consists of Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, and EMTs. Doctors serve as the directors of the EMS systems. They create protocols and provide online medical direction to EMS units. Each county usually has their own EMS system. For example, in Montgomery County, Maryland, the EMS system is incorporated into the fire and rescue services, as with many other counties. There is also a state EMS governing body in most states. Maryland is governed by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System. Nurses usually provide care on air ambulances and critical care transport ambulances. Paramedics are common in most EMS systems, bringing advances skills and medications to save lives. EMTs are the most basic provider of emergency pre-hospital care. Their basic skills are enough to stabilize a person until they reach a hospital.

Most people just think of EMTs and paramedics as the “guys on the ambulance” or an “ambulance driver”. There are also common misconceptions that the patient is loaded into the ambulance and the EMTs and paramedics hop in the front to drive to the hospital. EMTs and paramedics provide care in-route to the hospital and as well as while on scene. An EMT-Basic is the entry level EMS provider. The procedures and skills the procedures and skills they are allowed to do are generally non-invasive such as bleeding control, bag valve mask ventilation, supplemental oxygen administration, and splinting (including spinal immobilization). Some medications (for example, epinephrine for anaphylactic shock (severe allergic reaction) administered through an auto injector, such as an EpiPen) can only be given or “assisted” to a patient with a prescription. EMTs usually have one hundred and twenty hours of training. There are also intermediate EMTs that have advanced skills such as advanced intubation techniques, IVs, and advanced assessments. Advanced EMTs, our paramedics, are the highest level of EMT, and in general, the highest level of prehospital medical provider. Paramedics perform many medical procedures such as advanced medications, obtaining IV access, cardiac monitoring, manual defibrillation, and other advanced procedures and assessments. They have about one thousand hours of training and they can receive an associate’s degree.

A basic life support ambulance consists of EMT-Basics, and in some places, EMT-Intermediates. Advanced Life Support ambulances have at least a paramedic, and in most cases have an EMT-Basic or EMT-Intermediate assistant.

Without EMTs and paramedics, many people would not be able to survive their injuries. People do not always have transportation to a hospital, and in some cases, they need care immediately. Many people do not realize they have somebody to call to help them in times of medical emergency. EMTs and paramedics take care of many different kinds of emergencies, from the man who was in a car accident, to the women who cant breathe, or to the man who thinks he is on mars being attacked by aliens. EMTs and paramedics are trained and equipped to handle our emergencies.

Next time you see an EMT or paramedic, say thanks to them for all they have done and do for your community. These are guys that save lives because they like to help others, not for the little or no pay they receive. Better yet, you can give your local rescue squad or EMS station a donation. Many rescue squads and EMS stations are volunteer, and need money from the community to save lives. Money is a vital part to EMS that you can give. It is the gift of helping another and saving a life.