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  • EMS: More Than a Job A Calling

Published on May 23, 2012

EMS: More Than a Job, A Calling

By: Sandy Gehl, Director of Emergency Services

In times of crisis, it’s comforting to know we can count on Emergency Medical Service personnel to help us, our family, our friends and our neighbors. This week we pay tribute to these men and women during National Emergency Medical Services Week. This year’s theme, “EMS: More Than a Job. A Calling.” emphasizes the responsiveness, vigilance and compassion of our EMS personnel whose timely and attentive interventions save countless lives. 

Emergency Medical Services, more commonly known as EMS, is a system that provides emergency medical care. It is activated by a call for help after an incident of serious illness or injury. The focus of EMS is emergency medical care of the patients. EMS is most often recognized when emergency vehicles or helicopters are seen responding to emergency incidents.  But EMS is much more. It is a system of coordinated response and emergency medical care, involving multiple people and agencies. A comprehensive EMS system is always ready for any kind of emergency. 

An informed public that knows what to do in a medical emergency is key to the EMS system. Knowing when to call EMS and when ambulance transport is a necessary and essential component to improving the outcome of a stroke or heart attack. For example, a stroke patient has a limited number of hours to receive medication that greatly improves the quality of life and recovery after a stroke. By calling EMS, the hospital will have time to prepare for the patient and the patient will be cared for by the medics on site and during transport. The following is a list of heart attack and stroke warning signs:

Heart Attack Warning Signs

  • Chest discomfort
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

Stroke Warning Signs

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Avera Sacred Heart Hospital provides EMS training for Southeast Technical Institute, Northeast Community College, Yankton EMS and Vermillion EMS. We receive around 1,400 patients via EMS transport per year. As result of a grant, EKG machines were provided to Rural EMS support with the opinion that your health care should not be dictated by where you live.

A large percentage of people that serve EMS in our area serve as volunteers. These people give so much of themselves, their time, money, maintenance of their professional skills through ongoing education, as well as dealing with the stressors associated with performing during life threatening situations. We are fortunate to have such a committed group of individual who cover a vast area. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with and support the EMS providers. Please join me in thanking the EMS personnel in your community for their unwavering commitment and service.

American Heart Association