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The Ups and Downs of EMS

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That’s a Rap
Fire Department New York (FDNY) paramedic Farooq Muhammad, EMT-P, is full of surprises. His latest feat, a rap video titled “EMS Anthem”—a follow-up to the highly acclaimed EMS rap, “Call 911”—debuted May 21 at this year’s FDNY EMS Week EMT/Paramedic Competition.

“It took a lot of time and effort to sit down, think of the lyrics, rehearse them and record at the studio,” says Muhammad. “But it’s something I can pull off, so why not use those skills in a way that can get EMS the recognition it deserves, not just FDNY EMS, but EMS all across the country.”

In both videos, Muhammad portrays a day in the life of a New York City EMS provider. “Anthem” depicts Muhammad going about a regular day, responding to an asthmatic patient, a pedestrian struck, a cardiac arrest, a shooting victim and a chest pain patient.

“Putting to music lyrics that reflect what it is we as EMS professionals do and making it personal with an FDNY flavor instantaneously instills a feeling a pride,” says John Peruggia, chief of EMS for FDNY.

Thumbs Up to Muhammad for using his creativity to promote his personal mission: to show the public what EMS does and to reinforce to providers the value of their jobs and their bravery in performing them.

Saving One of Their Own
As chief executive officer of Gunnison Valley (Colo.) Hospital (GVH), Randy Phelps has spent countless hours and dollars supporting the hospital’s EMS department. In the early morning hours of March 20, those efforts paid off for him as three of his EMS medics saved his life.

Minutes after Phelps’s wife called 9-1-1, police officers and GVH medics arrived to their Gunnison home. The medics found Phelps in cardiac arrest, resuscitated him, transported him to GVH and assisted in his airlift to a hospital with a special cardiac unit.

Bryan Hess, GVH’s EMS director, says his team didn’t initially know who their patient was, but after a short time, they recognized his face.

As for how Hess and the medics are using the intra-office life-saving situation to their advantage, Hess says he doesn’t have much to ask for.

 “He’s been really supportive of my department,” Hess says, citing Phelps’ work in getting grants and approval of new equipment for their ambulances.

A few weeks later, Phelps returned to work. “It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that the efforts of countless people can save a life, because they certainly saved mine,” says Phelps.

About Time
TIME Magazine’s annual list of the most influential people has the usual assortment of world leaders, scientists and celebrities. But in 2010, a paramedic joined its list as one of the world’s top heroes.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive singled out Toronto paramedic Rahul Singh and his GlobalMedic NGO, writing in TIME that they “greatly restored my faith in the fellowship of humanity.”

 Just days after January’s earthquake, Singh and other GlobalMedic volunteers arrived in Haiti. Singh is most proud of making about a million liters of water potable per week in addition to offering first aid.

 “I think it is cool, but it’s not a personal honor,” Singh says. “Although I am the one on the list, it’s not my actions, it’s the combined actions of all the men and women that do emergency work and volunteer for our service to go overseas to save lives.”

The honor is rewarding to Singh, however, because it raises the profile of paramedics, who are often overshadowed by firefighters and police officers.

GlobalMedic currently has volunteers providing medical aid across the globe. They’re even clearing mines and ordnance in the Gaza Strip, Angola and Chad. Soon they’ll be in Afghanistan.

Safety First
Following a statewide trend, ambulance crews in Wausau, Wis., are limiting the use of lights and sirens on calls to avoid traffic collisions when lives aren’t in jeopardy. Although some calls demand lights-and-siren responses, not all calls require the same level of urgency.

Interim director for the Wisconsin EMS Association Todd Williams says lights and sirens are meant to alert other motorists to move out of an ambulance’s path. Although emergency departments must adhere to the Department of Transportation’s rules of the road, they also have the ability to set their own policies regarding acceptable speeds for lights-and-sirens responses, Williams says.

The patient’s care is a priority, but the safety of emergency responders and motorists comes first, says Schofield (Wis.) Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Rob Bowen. “If we can’t get there safely, we can’t do the patient any good,” Bowen says.

Thumbs Up to Wausau crews for taking the long view when it comes to safety. JEMS
 This originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of JEMS as “Last Word: The ups and downs of EMS.”



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