WAUSAU, Wis.– Each year in May, a week is set aside to recognize the lifesaving work that EMT’s, paramedics, first responders do every day in our communities. In 2021, May 16 through May 22 is designated as National EMS Week, with this year’s theme EMS: Caring for Our Communities.
“This year has brought challenges to EMS crews that I have never experienced in my 26 years of involvement in emergency services,” said Jason Keffeler, Aspirus MedEvac System Director. “I am extremely impressed how quickly everyone adapted to crucial new procedures and their dedication to patient safety during the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
No matter what size or location of the EMS service, crews had to learn to operate with stringent new guidelines for patient and personal safety. This included working in full personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times, often for extended periods in the confined environment of an ambulance or air transport vehicle.
Aspirus MedEvac experienced a large increase in transport requests due to COVID-19 patient needs during the surge period from October through January. More transports meant more hours for crews who were already working longer hours to assure service would be available when needed. Short staffing and recruitment continue to be a national challenge for EMS.
“During the initial phase of COVID, in addition to the new demands of the job, our EMS crews also had to worry about the fear of the unknown and possibly bringing COVID home to their families,” said Jeff Freese, MedEvac Education and Outreach Coordinator. “Our communities should know how lucky we are to have this group of dedicated individuals who provide service even in the face of their own personal risk.”
One of the benefits that Aspirus MedEvac provides to area communities is ongoing training opportunities for EMS, fire and first responders. In partnership with the local services, education and outreach is shared to ensure a high caliber of care is provided across the region.
“While the pandemic limited the in-person sessions last year, we already have several video trainings scheduled for May,” said Jeff Freese. “We are looking forward to hopefully going out into the community for on-site trainings later in the year.”
Aspirus Medevac has been accredited by the National Accreditation Alliance of Medical Transport Applications (NAAMTA) since 2015. They were the first hospital-based program in the NAAMTA Alliance and the first program to meet 100% compliance in the inspection process.
More information can be found about Aspirus’ medical transport services at www.aspirus.org/medical-transport.