EMS Week is celebrated to honor local volunteers

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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Emergency Medical Services (EMS) week is May 20 – 26. It is a time to honor the day-to-day citizens, the beauticians, the farmers, the homemakers and the business owners who volunteer their time to help others during an emergency.

“These people cannot be supported enough,” said Jeff Jelinski, communications supervisor for the Morrison County  Sheriff’s Office and first responder. “Local first responders are extremely valuable people. They are a local resource that many don’t know much about until they are needed and put into place, doing their job.”

Jeff Jelinski

Jelinski said it takes a lot of dedication to be an EMS personnel. Each one is dedicated to service and public safety.

In Morrison County, 11 teams cover different communities as well as an area covered by Gold Cross Ambulance. Camp Ripley has its own First Response team.

While each team has its area to cover in Morrison County, those boundaries do overlap in major emergencies when additional personnel are needed. Whether it’s a major highway accident or a natural disaster, the volunteers are there for their community.

Jelinski said the new 800 megahertz radio system, being adopted across the country, has changed the face of emergency services.

“Before, when a 911 call reached dispatch and the operator contacted a first response team, the dispatcher wouldn’t know if the volunteers had arrived at the scene of the event,” said Jelinski. “There was possibly no radio communication between the two. Or, depending on the location, the connections could be poor. With the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) systems for emergency response, each responder is equipped with a radio to communicate with both dispatch and the ambulance.”

ARMER allows each agency to interconnect and truly operate efficiently between each other. The 800 megahertz system has made all the difference in emergency services, said Jelinski.

Jelinski said that today, victims of a medical or other emergency will have care from a variety of people, even before they all arrive on the scene.

“First responders are the key to the EMS system,” he said.

A call to 911 turns on the entire system. The dispatcher calls many different groups that can include the county sheriff’s department or the  city police; the fire department, EMS personnel and/or an ambulance.

“Questions are asked the caller and whoever is needed is sent to the scene. It’s better to have too many people at an event than too few,” said Jelinski.

EMS Week is also meant to include law enforcement and the fire departments. Many EMS personnel and fire fighters are volunteers and don’t get paid for what they do, but all are the lifeline to the community, said Jelinski.

Training for first responders includes advanced first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) usage. Members learn to splint and pull traction on broken bones, assist in childbirth, how to assess anaphylactic shock and take blood pressures. They also learn about pressure points and how to stop bleeding and how to determine if someone has had head trauma.

EMS week was first declared in November 1974, by Pres. Gerald Ford. In 1982, it was moved to September and in 1992, it moved again to the third week in May. The week brings together communities to not only honor the many volunteer emergency medical personnel, but to also make people aware of becoming safer in their daily activities.