MADISON, Wis. Emergency Medical Technicians respond to every 911 call. They are some of the first people at the emergency scene and when they get there they have a huge responsibility while maintaining their composure in those high stress situations.
John Collins is an EMT with the Jefferson Fire Department. He said that during the pandemic communication between dispatch and EMS has changed. There is a new call for public health situations. Collins said this adds some pressure because they don't know if the patient they're caring for has contracted the virus.
"Patients who maybe are really sick and need a breathing tube or some of these high risk procedures. Even if they don't have any signs or symptoms of COVID we have to treat them like they have COVID until we can prove otherwise. From an area where normally we would maybe not be taking wearing suits and face masks and breathing aspirates and respirators, now we're doing that," Collins said.
According to the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians there are more than 8,200 trained EMTs in Wisconsin and more than 370,000 across the country. Most are volunteers.
"EMS is a tremendous number of people who have volunteered to take on a tremendous number of hours of education and training and continuous hours of training and education to serve their communities to help those in need," Ron Wegner, Chief of the Jefferson Fire Department, said.
Collins said that a big part of the EMS profession is community service. The Jefferson Fire Department participates in a youth camp every year for kids to see what a day in the life of an EMT is like. The camp is put on through Center for School, Youth and Citizen Preparedness. The camp is still happening, but virtually. You can register here. The deadline to register is June 5.
National EMS Appreciation Week runs until May 23.