EMS: Compassion and strength a must

  • Thursday, December 12, 2013

Photo provided. Amber Strickland, Berkeley County EMS’s office manager brings order to choas and “is really great keeping up with everyone, the whole fleet,” according to Chris Esdorn.

It takes a special cut of person to thrive in the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) field.

The person needs to be strong, compassionate, calm, yet decisive; doctor, nurse and orderly all contained in the same package. Those who have chosen a career in EMS enjoy serving the community and caring for those in need.

Bob Mixter, Berkeley County EMS Director, said working in EMS is not just a job, but a calling.

“We have been given a great responsibility and trust to assist our fellow man on what is likely the worst day of their life,” he said. “I am honored to be the person to who stands in the gap on that day. While we get paid for our services, it is not about the pay, it is rarely about the pay; but, we know, the benefits are heavenly.”

This is the fourth and final part in a series on what it takes to be a paramedic.

“Coming out of high school straight into EMS as a driver and working my way through to paramedic, I strive to make a difference in the community,” said Mike Lewis, paramedic and logistics officer. “It has been a rewarding field with many thanks and praises by my community, neighbors and family.

“It has been very challenging as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) paramedic and now as a logistic officer. The rewarding aspect of my career will never end.”

Paramedic Christina Wheeler said Berkeley County EMS is a good fit for her.

“Being in EMS is my true calling,” she said. “I get to work with some of the best EMTs and paramedics, a true win for me on every third day. My co-workers are more than co-workers, but my family. Then the fact that I get to make a difference in a person’s life .. is another win.”

Wheeler feels a sense of accomplishment when a patient or their family smiles or says thank you, “Because at the end of the day to me that is priceless,” she said. “With this career I get to learn something new about myself all the time and it makes being a paramedic so much more fulfilling.”

For Tena Murphy it’s about making a difference.

“I know I do,” she said. “Each and every shift. That is why I love what I do.”

In times of crisis and emergency, often it’s the EMT’s anonymous but reassuring expression and calm demeanor that takes off the edge of panic.

“Most people don’t know who we are,” said Chris Esdorn, Berkeley County EMS. “Are we ambulance drivers, or are we EMTs, or paramedics?

“I have saved more than I have lost. I promise you that.

“I have put my two hands together so much and preformed CPR and revived a lot of people over 19 years. I have given many life-saving drugs with a mixture of skills to change the outcomes. My job boils down to my performance and patient outcomes.”

Berkeley County residents pay $29 a year in taxes to EMS services. With the suggested increase in fire protection services fees, Esdorn wondered why not spread the wealth a little? His EMS vans and the need for new and updated life-saving and diagnostic equipment certainly could use it.

“Although more funding goes into protecting your property than protecting your life, your property taxes are received on the fire department level at probably $100 dollars per household while at the EMS level it is only $29 dollars per household,” he said. “For what it costs for the taxpayer to pay for one fire truck we could operate three EMS units.”

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