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UVMC Celebrates EMS Week

2011 EMS week
Upper Valley Medical Center EMS professionals work outside the hospital’s emergency department.  EMS squads from Miami and nearby counties bring patients to the emergency department as well as receive some of their training through UVMC EMS Education.

Nearly 7,700 patients arriving at Upper Valley Medical Center’s Emergency Department in 2010 were accompanied by members of an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) squad.

The squads - from volunteers to paid departments - all play a key role in the community’s health, said Tony Alexander, UVMC Emergency Medical Services Manager.

Whether volunteer or paid working full or part time, those assisting patients on squads are required to have the same training from Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to paramedics.

National standards are always changing and a lot of hours are involving in training, Alexander said.

In early May, Troy Fire Department paramedics received their first training on the left ventricle assist device, or LVAD. The device is intended to keep people alive as they wait for heart transplants by pushing blood through the left ventricle, the heart chamber that sends blood into the body.

Training either for fire or EMS takes place almost every week day at the Troy Fire Department.  Part of that, UVMC’s EMS training, is held monthly, usually during the first week.

For full-time departments training is weaved in around calls, which average 12 per day at the Troy department. Of the calls for service, 75 percent are for EMS.

A lot of training is seasonal, such as handling someone injured in a swimming pool accident before summer.

“You never know what call is going to come in. You have to be prepared as much as you can,” said Tim Haywood, who has 17 years with the Troy department.

Although always on-call while on duty, there is a daily routine for the Troy firefighter/paramedics working one of three 24-hour shifts.

Among those duties on arriving at the station at 7 a.m. are to check vehicles to make sure they start properly and are in good working order and check on any  routine building maintenance that needs done. “Everything you do at home, we do here because we live here every three days, Haywood said.

They make their own meals at the firehouse kitchen, where Haywood on a recent day was trying to make tacos for lunch between calls for service and an afternoon training.

Also on duty was Dan Stine, who that day was observing 15 years with the department.

The toughest part of the job “is kids,” Stine said, along with people who do not survive.

Haywood, a Troy native, joined the fire department following service as a firefighter on a Navy aircraft carrier. “I like helping people. It is in my blood,” he said.

A native of Ludlow Falls, Stine also was in the Navy, where he was a postal clerk.

“When you know you’ve helped someone, it makes you feel good. This (job) has been quite rewarding,” Stine said.

Vince Ashcraft has been a firefighter/paramedic with the Piqua Fire Department for 19 years. He recently became an assistant chief.

“The way we are doing things now is not the same as it was when I was hired,” Ashcraft said. For example, the department had protocols of just over a dozen pages. Today, they are in the hundreds.  In addition, the type of drugs paramedics can give has increased tremendously.

Piqua also is a full-time department of firefighter/paramedics who work 24 hours, then have 48 hours off.

The work day begins with physical training along with maintaining the Piqua fire station, which was build in 1927 and equipment which is used longer than before because of costs. “It takes a lot of TLC to keep them on the road,” Ashcraft said.

The work day slows around 5 p.m. with dinner and evening activities, which for some includes another workout.

“Typically, we never know if we will get any sleep at all. Some nights we don’t get a wink of sleep,” he said.

Training for either firefighter or EMS is done almost daily. “It is a career long, year-long event,” Ashcraft said of the various trainings the staff undergoes.

Each day is different for those working in EMS. “You see a lot of things you wish you couldn’t see,” Ashcraft said. “But, overall, there is no other place I would rather be. This is the greatest job in the world.”

UVMC EMS Education provides EMS professionals with courses such as Emergency Medical Technician Certification, Continuing Education Courses, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, CPR and First Aid courses.

Departments that transport to UVMC are primarily from Miami, Darke, Champaign and Shelby counties but also include departments from Montgomery, Clark and Logan counties.

Each EMS Agency must operate under a physician’s medical direction and license.  Several UVMC ER doctors are medical directors for the Miami County departments and continuously assist the EMS agencies with education and yearly protocols.

Miami County has two full-time departments: Piqua and Troy.  The other departments are Tipp City EMS, Bradford Fire and Rescue, Covington Rescue Squad,
Pleasant Hill Rescue Squad, Union Township Life Squad, Bethel Township Fire and Rescue and Elizabeth Township Fire and Rescue.

The week of May 15-21 is EMS Week, a good time for people to thank members of their local EMS agency, Alexander said.