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EMS week sheds light on lifesaving work done by many

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Capt. Ron McLean shows medical equipment in his quick response vehicle at Greenville Fire/Rescue Headquarters on May 22, 2019. (Molly Urbina/The Daily Reflector)


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Friday, May 24, 2019

When the alarms are set off and the fire engines and ambulances leave the station, Capt. Ron McLean hops into his Greenville Fire-Rescue quick response vehicle and rushes to the scene.  

McLean, a paramedic/firefighter and EMS supervisor at Greenville Fire-Rescue oversees more than a dozen firefighter/EMTs on a daily basis ensuring that they respond quickly and effectively to emergencies.  

While his quick response vehicle looks like a fancy Chevrolet Tahoe with lights and sirens, it is much more than that.

On Wednesday afternoon, McLean showcased his special truck and explained what EMTs do.    

“Our role is basically is to respond to the general public requests for services and we treat them medically,” McLean said.  

With his quick response vehicle, McLean can tackle just about anything.

“I can treat anything and everything that the ambulance can treat, anything from a runny nose to a heart attack,” McLean said. 

”I carry all the equipment they carry,” he said. “The only difference is I can’t transport.”

McLean is one of many EMTs being recognized for their contributions in the community during National EMS Week which runs through Saturday.  

According to the National Association of EMTs website, EMS Week brings together local communities and medical personnel to honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's front line. 

Pitt County Emergency Management Director Jim McArthur said he appreciates all the hard work that EMTs do and hopes the public recognizes their lifesaving work.

“It’s our opportunity to share with the public why we do what we do,” McArthur said. “While everybody sees us driving around in ambulances or chase cars, that’s really on about half of what we do.”

EMS is evolving, he said. 

“Over the last 15-20 years, EMS has really become part of the medical profession,” McArthur said. “We’re doing things in the field out in kind of austere environment in people’s houses and on the side of the road and wherever it may be that they’ve done in hospitals historically.” 

Pitt County has 10 EMS agencies, according to McArthur, and all of the county’s agencies provide paramedic level care, the highest level of care for EMS.  

“Locally we have a large pool of creative and talented medical providers that do a great job of providing services to the county and the city,” he said. “We want people to understand we are medical professionals and we are doing a very good job of taking care of sick and injured folks. This is a great time to start learning about EMS.”

One such professional is Pactolus EMS Paramedic Steven Collingwood.  

Collingwood has been in EMS since 1997 and makes it his mission to help others every day.  

“When I come out there, my job is to help you, whatever your problem is,” he said.  

While the days are long, Collingwood said he has enjoyed getting to meet people from every walk of life.

“I’ve had my patients tell me some great stories and share great recipes,” he said.

Collingwood said he appreciates being honored during EMS week.

“It makes me feel good they recognize us,” he said. “Everybody wants to know that what they’re doing is important and appreciated.”

About National EMS Week

May 19-25, 2019, is the 45th annual National EMS Week. In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS practitioners and the important work they do in our nation's communities. NAEMT partners with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) to lead annual EMS Week activities. Together, NAEMT and ACEP are working to ensure that the important contributions of EMS practitioners in safeguarding the health, safety and wellbeing of their communities are fully celebrated and recognized.

This year, five days of EMS Week have a theme that represents the diverse nature of EMS.

Monday: EMS Education Day

Tuesday: Safety Tuesday

Wednesday: EMS for Children Day

Thursday: Stop the Bleed Day

Friday: EMS Recognition Day

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566.  Follow him on Twitter @Tylerstocks1987

Blood drive

Greenville Fire/Rescue is partnering with the American Red Cross to host the third annual blood drive in support of National EMS Week. GFR invites the community to come out to Fire Station 6, located at 3375 E. 10th St., and help save lives by donating blood.

The blood drive will be held on May 29 from 1-6 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but online sign-ups through www.redcrossblood.org are encouraged to better serve you and your time. Donors can sign up via Rapid Pass online or by downloading the Blood Donor App to shorten their visit on the day of the blood drive. Eligible donors with types O, A negative, and B negative blood are urged to make a Power Red donation.

The Red Cross is providing each donor with a snack and a small token of appreciation to each donor as a thank you for their time.