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EMS Week: Not just another year

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During the week of May 17 to May 24, our grateful nation took part in the annual national EMS Week to recognize all EMS workers for their unselfish dedication and commitment in caring for, and protecting the lives of others.

But this year, it was different. There was no celebration and there were no awards . . . at least not for now.

Instead, the members EMFD’s medical service have dug in for several months running one EMS call after another many of which, a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a very different time for EMS members and firefighters alike.

Dedicated? I’ll say . . . Its 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night. I’m midway through writing this article. I take a ride on the bike. While out, the pagers alerted for Chiefs, Rescue 5, & 6199 (Fly Car), for a Signal 9 (EMS) with the announcement of a Covid-19 positive patient.

Within two minutes, the sound of sirens could be heard as EMFD fire chiefs and the 99 EMS fly car took to the road. Minutes later, as I stand on the corner of East Meadow Avenue and Prospect Avenue, a chief passes by. Then 6199, soon followed by ambulance 615. Just two minutes later, ambulance 6115 radioed its response with additional volunteers who have arrived at the firehouse.

Perhaps not the routine EMS call we have ever had to prepare for. Not just in our volunteer careers, but in our lifetimes.

To think that so many dedicated people could drop what they are doing at a moment’s notice for a neighbor, with a higher than normal level of risk to themselves, is a remarkable tribute to the love and dedication they have for our community.

They are true professionals in every sense of the word. Chiefs who command each scene to ensure the safety of our responders, and those injured or taken ill. On Covid-19 EMS calls, they will ensure members are fully protected with just the necessary medical technicians involved in direct patient contact. Company officers and members who are so confident to put fear aside knowing their skills are top shelf, and their training and knowledge of this disease affords them security in knowing how to protect against transmission.

This week would normally be filled with congratulations, awards for those who achieved, and maybe a baseball game with the doctors and nurses of NUMC. True heroes themselves . . . It would be a celebratory week to remember for these great volunteers . . . But not this year.

So much more on the line. Save and be safe.

So until such time as we can rightfully recognize these men and women, we hope that you join us in honoring our EMS responders, EMTS, and EMS Officers, of Rescue Company 4, Rescue 5, our 99 Response team, chiefs, and all firefighters throughout our department who are EMS trained and could appear at your door.

John J. O'Brien is an active Ex Chief of the East Meadow Fire Department. He is the District Supervisor of the Jericho Fire District and has over 40 years of Dispatch and Supervisory experience.