Sunday, April 7, 2013

Personal response: Iowa EMS

I don't normally get riled up about much but something that happened recently has come too close to home for me to not say anything. I've (again) been meaning to write a blog on a similar topic anyway and today presented a perfect lead-way into it.


If you live in Iowa and get the Des Moines register you'll know exactly what I am talking about. Today, the Register ran a special report with the headline "How a broken EMS system endangers Iowans". This was a special 8 page insert into the register compiling a research done on several topics of the Iowa EMS system. It discusses everything from violations of certain departments and personnel, budget cuts, response times, and several other stories involving EMS. If you want to see it, it's on the Register's website. 

Obviously this hits close to home for me being an EMT. Now, I've only been an EMT for about a year and half but still the time I've spent answering calls has changed who I am completely. Conversations with people about it usually go about like this... "I'm an EMT".  "Really? Do you like it?" "I LOVE it. My only regret is not doing it sooner." "really, so why nursing school and not paramedic school?"... 
The answer to this question is what I was originally going to write about. There are actually many reasons behind this and I thought about paramedic school frequently before going to nursing school but determined that the best choice where I need to be was nursing school. I'll try to remember to write about that decision later but today, the articles in the Des Moines Register are making my stomach turn and making me more disgusted as I think about it. Many of the points made in the article can be found an ANY business or organization. And many of the 'crimes' of volunteers who are called out have little or nothing to do with EMS but the article is tying them together. 

EMS is a business that is not suitable for everyone, there are a select few that are wired to handle emergency situations. When I say this, I'm not trying to brag but it's honesty.  Staying calm and doing the job of EMS is challenging, some calls can take several hours and during that time your emotions have to stay in check. When you get home, you can break down but it could be just minutes later when the beeeepbeeep beep of the pager goes off and another person needs you to be calm and collected.  It's tough. 

Our department is made up of 4 full-time medics and about 30 volunteer EMT's and Advanced EMT's.  Many respond from their jobs as first responders or for a secondary unit if needed.  Many do overnight shifts, with the possibility of not getting any sleep before going to their job the next day.  We are blessed to have full time members as many small towns cannot afford to. Some places cannot afford an ambulance but have volunteers willing to run firetrucks to the scene to get the patient stabilized before a unit from the next town comes.  I guarantee you these volunteers have saved a person's life, this may not have happened had the person had to wait until a neighboring ambulance got there.  

Yes, they are volunteers and it may take them longer to respond but they'll be there if possible. Regardless of them being mostly volunteer based, departments have regulations and rules regarding response time, alcohol use, and background checks, ect.  One part of an article said something along the lines of if your barn is on fire you'll have someone there but if you have a heart attack good luck.  This statement lacks any integrity.  On cardiac arrest calls, most often we have more people that are actually needed. On any call we have the amount we need and are always able to call for back up personnel and get a response.  

Yes, I can assure you that there are times I don't want to go on call or get out of bed, but I go because I know that someone needs something I can help with. We go because we have no idea who is on the other side of the address, we go because it could be our mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, grandma, best friend. or it could be you, a complete stranger that is having the worst day of their life and needs help. And some day it could be me that needs help and I know someone will respond.

I hope that if you read the articles, you won't forget about the positive side of the story. An ambulance service is a crucial part of any community and I encourage you to support yours.
I have made life long friends, and a second family through EMS.  and I am so thankful for being able to work with them and call upon them when I need to. 
Remember the personnel in the community who are gone from the family to help someone else. Please include us in your prayers for safety. Thank you to to my fellow EMS providers.

More on this topic my arise but that's what I had to say for now. 

(These opinions are strictly my own personal opinions    

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