MCSA Celebrates National EMS Week 2018 – “Stronger Together”
EMS Responders Work in Tandem with MCSA to Support Individuals and the Community in Times of Emergency
El Dorado AR – Every May, Medical Center of South Arkansas salutes local EMS in support of National Emergency Medical Services Week, a tradition of honoring a critical segment of first responders in the U.S. for more than forty years. This year’s celebration theme is EMS Strong – Stronger Together, and is especially relevant as the first responder world has evolved.
“The natural disasters of the past decade have resulted in significant changes in the role of EMS,” says Ken Kelley, ProMed CEO. “The perception of EMS as solely ambulance drivers and medical technicians has been rapidly replaced by images of these heroes holding communities together during and after major disasters.”
With impact estimated at more than $300 billion, 2017 was the costliest year on record for natural disasters. On top of three back-to-back category-four hurricanes that devastated Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the surrounding regions, first responders were stretched dealing with massive wildfires, floods and heat-wave related crises across much of the nation. In virtually every instance, EMS professionals are running toward the danger while everyone else is, and should be, running away from it.
“Readiness to respond to major incidents doesn’t just happen – it requires planning, coordination, education and training for responders and support personnel,” said El Dorado Fire Department Chief Chad Mosby, citing the NAEMT 2017 Preparedness Report. “This speaks to the relevance of the ‘Stronger Together’ theme – EMS simply can’t do it alone. True disaster preparedness involves a coordinated effort between first responders, medical services, local and state government and the community itself.”
Responsibilities now falling to EMS and first responder organizations, outside of the traditional application of onsite medical support, include:
- Evacuation and crowd control
- Creating triage and shelter centers in disaster zones
- Training community members to apply emergency first aid
- Developing community alert systems and technologies
- Training the community on disaster preparedness/prevention techniques
- Developing Mutual Aid Agreements – 85% of EMS managers now report ability to assist neighbor jurisdictions within 24 hours
Of course, the vast majority of EMS services are still rendered in response to emergency medical situations, such as heart attacks, strokes and auto accidents. The level of care that EMS can provide during transport to a hospital has increased dramatically over the past decade, reducing the loss of brain and heart function, and saving lives that may have once been lost during transport.
Still, a 2016 report revealed that only 1 of every 3 patients who have had a stroke were transported by EMS, with the remaining 66% arriving in private vehicles. Most patients report that they “didn’t think they were having a stroke,” or “felt silly calling 9-1-1”. Still others cited the costs involved in an EMS transport, and the inadequacy of their healthcare coverage.
The American College of Emergency Physicians warns against the risk involved with self-transport, when there is a reasonable chance you may be having a life-threatening event. Here are their guidelines for recognizing a medical emergency, and calling 9-1-1:
- Severe chest or upper abdominal pain that lasts more than 2 minutes
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Dizziness, weakness or fainting
- Vision changes, such as double or blurred vision
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Bleeding that won’t stop after 10 minutes
- Suicidal feelings
- Several allergic reaction, such as to an insect bite or medication
“MCSA is an Accredited Chest Pain Center, a Level III Trauma Center and participates in the statewide STEMI program,” said MCSA Director of Emergency Department Sonya Justice. “Any member of the EMS team will urge you to err on the side of caution and call them in one of these situations, rather than risk complications or death while transporting yourself or someone you know. “During EMS week and every week, Medical Center of South Arkansas thanks local and regional EMS professionals for the lifesaving roles they play during crises both big and small.”