May 20, 2004

Emergency Service Personnel Are There When We Need Them

by Bud Wilson

The public doesn’t spend much time thinking about the people in Scotland County who answer the call during an emergency. That is, until we need them. When an emergency response is required there are a host of everyday citizens in Scotland County who put on another hat, another face, and acquire another courage.

Some are paid, many are volunteers, but as soon as a call is received, their focus becomes help and protection for the citizens in their county…no matter where that may lead them…and no matter what the circumstances.

Things are different for the people who respond to emergencies in a rural area such as Scotland County. Because many are volunteers, they are not “camped-out” at the fire department complex, sitting next to a radio, or parked in front of the police department, just waiting for an emergency call. The sheriff’s department may be out patrolling county roads or the state patrol may be miles away, monitoring highway traffic. Conservation department agents may be deep into the timber.

People must leave their jobs in the day, or rise from sleep in the night, and many of them must respond in their private vehicles. No matter where they are or what they are doing, suddenly everything changes.

If they’re not already wearing it (protective vests), they must don their turn-out gear (protective uniforms), and establish the location of the emergency. After sliding-in under the steering wheel, they take-a-breath, because they are about to propel emergency vehicles, and some of them are trucks weighing several tons…down the road in an emergency response.

Many of these rigs have large capacity tanks, and driving around a curve with a shifting liquid cargo presents a driving challenge, that is anything except routine.

Yet in spite of all these situations, the quick response time to an emergency call in Scotland County is the normal, not the unusual. Rescuing a victim who is in critical condition must be done in a timely manner - lives can and often do, hang in the balance.

First-responders who live in the area where the emergency takes place, provide vital information about victims, which is immensely helpful to crews who are on their way to the scene. Rarely do they receive a “thank-you”.

Often times, at the scene of an emergency, the crews are in as much danger as the victims. Just as with fire and rescue, law enforcement personnel must utilize all their countless hours of training, facing situations that are, or can become, inherently dangerous. Split-second decisions must be calculated and executed, and as with all emergency personnel, the responsibility of the decisions they make, must be accounted for later.

We ask a lot from our emergency crews. When you thank them, they say, “We were just doing our jobs”. But, as in the past history of Scotland County, they have, and always will, respond. So the next time you hear the scream of sirens in the night, you might want to say a little word for them. They will appreciate that.

This week is National Emergency Medical Services week. In honor of all county and city emergency workers, fire and rescue, state, county and city law enforcement, first responders, in all capacities, Scotland County Hospital Ambulance Service will provide a hospital BBQ with all the fixings, this Thursday, May 20, 2004 in the dining room, starting at noon.

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