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EMS raises awareness of role

Paramedics with the King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC)Ambulance Service are participating in EMS (Emergency MedicalServices) Week, a national effort to increase community awarenessof the role EMS plays in the community.

“We hope to honor EMS professionals and to educate the public onwhat we do,” said Kim Nelson, paramedic and supervisor of the KDMCAmbulance Service.

National EMS Week is sponsored by the National Association ofEMS Physicians. Nelson said the initiative aims to clear upmisconceptions the general public has about paramedics.

Many are unaware of the specialized training paramedics have.Such training enables them to perform complex medicalprocedures.

“As paramedics, we can administer medication,” Nelson said. “Wedo more than just take people to the hospital. We actually initiatetreatment.”

In the late 70s, the need for more specialized emergencyresponse training became evident, Nelson said. Changes in the EMScommunity led to two distinct categories of emergencyresponders.

The first category, emergency medical technicians, or EMTs,perform basic life support functions. The more advancedclassification, paramedic, requires an associate degree andincludes more complex medical procedures such as administeringadvanced life support.

Paramedics work to stabilize patients before transporting themto the hospital while EMTs provide a support role.

“Most ambulance services run one EMT and one paramedic,” Nelsonsaid. “Here, we run double medic trucks. That’s one thing thathelps us stand out in the state.”

KDMC paramedics believe that many false assumptions keep peoplefrom calling.

“In rural Mississippi, a lot of people believe you have toalmost be dead to call a paramedic,” said Mark Lambert, KDMCparamedic. “I think a lot won’t call an ambulance unless they arereally bad off.”

Lambert hopes that efforts like EMS Week will remove hindrancespeople have to calling.

“People need to know it’s OK to call,” Lambert said.

Any acute changes in one’s health should raise flags. Suchsymptoms include shortness of breath, chest pains and mental statuschanges, Lambert said.

Paramedics say there are several things the public can do toassist.

“The hardest part of our job is finding them,” said Amy Magee,KDMC paramedic.

Callers often request assistance and quickly hang up. Paramedicsgive several basic suggestions to help them arrive as soon aspossible.

“Mailbox numbers should be placed on both sides of the mailboxwith letters 2 or 3 inches tall.” Nelson said.

The public can also help EMS by being prepared when an emergencyhappens.

“If you have a medical problem, write down all of your medicalinformation on a piece of paper,” Lambert said.

As a first responder, KDMC paramedics respond to a great deal oftrauma and emphasize the importance of highway safety.

“I’ve only cut one dead driver out of a seatbelt in nine years,”Lambert said. “Injuries are so much worse without a seat belt.”

The federal Click It or Ticket program, when highway patrolofficers nationwide crack down on seat belt violations, startedrecently.

In Mississippi, seat belt violations become a primary offensethis weekend, which means officers do not need another drivingoffense to issue a ticket.