By Kim Walter
In conjunction with May 19 - 25 being National EMS Week, the Lord Fairfax EMS Council will host an open house to educate community members on what the emergency responders do every day to protect the region's health and safety.
The national recognition week is in its 40th year, but this is the first year featuring open house activities. Samantha Meade, regional field coordinator for the council, decided to put on the event after assuming the position in February.
Meade is no stranger to the EMS field, as she started volunteering with the council 16 years ago. Before holding her current position, she was the training center coordinator for CPR programs.
"When the position opened up, I knew it was what I had to do to go ahead and further my career in the EMS field," she said Friday. "EMS and fire and rescue have always been my passion, and this is the area where I want to serve. I love the valley."
On Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the first round of activities will take place at the council's headquarters at 180-1 Prosperity Drive in Winchester.
Free blood pressure and glucose checks will be available, Meade said. Members of the council, which covers Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties and Winchester, also will be on site to answer questions. Each day, equipment and tools will be on display.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, the location again will be open to the community with a few extra activities. Meade said training will take place on "hands-only CPR." More local EMS providers will be on site, along with a bake sale, door prizes and free lunch.
Additionally, an ambulance will be open to the public to demonstrate what goes on during that ride to the hospital. Meade said she hopes the demo and chance to look at equipment will help people realize how much money and time goes into the job.
"I don't think people realize that EMS providers are continuously required to keep up with technology and education," she said. "Even after they're certified, things are always changing, practices are improved ... but it's all part of the job."
Meade said personnel also will go over the Rider Alert program, an initiative to get alert stickers on the helmets of motorcycle riders who have a medical condition. She said it's new, but very beneficial to EMS providers if they have to help an unresponsive patient.
"If they see the sticker, then they know the person will have a medical ID on them, with a description of their issue and what type of treatment they can and can't receive," she said.
The event also will cater to children, helping them feel more comfortable around medical personnel.
"Hopefully kids will talk with the providers, and realize that their goal is to help," Meade said. "We want to get to them when they're young ... we don't want them to be afraid of us when we walk through the door to help them or a loved one."
Meade said she hopes the community will come out to show support for the staff, who Meade says often go without a thank you.
"I think it would be very nice for them to be recognized for all their efforts, for waking up at 2 in the morning to answer an emergency call even when they have to start a shift at 6 a.m.," she said. "This job will take a toll on you, but you do it because you love it."
For information on the free events, call the Lord Fairfax EMS Council at 540-665-0014 or go to www.lfems.vaems.org.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or email@example.com