By Kim Walter
FRONT ROYAL - Emergency Medical Service personnel were thanked and honored during an event at the North Warren Volunteer Fire and Rescue station Wednesday afternoon.
The celebration was planned in coordination with this week being National EMS Week. The Chest Pain Center at Warren Memorial Hospital sponsored the event, and provided food, cake and a relaxing atmosphere for the first responders.
Rasheva Sperry, emergency department nurse at the hospital, said she and others in her department have a close relationship with EMS personnel.
"They are the first responders to so many different situations, but they really do so much for us in the Chest Pain Center," she said. "If it weren't for them answering patient calls and getting to where they need to be in such a timely manner, there would be plenty of folks who wouldn't even make it to the hospital."
The center put together a video featuring community officials and leaders saying a personal thank you to the first responders. Speakers included principals at Warren County schools, representatives from urgent care and local nursing homes, and the president of Warren Memorial Hospital.
Center staff made lunch and held a number of raffles for personnel, and also presented Fire Chief Richard Mabie with a plaque. Raffled items included shirts, hats and other "goodies" inscribed with the National EMS Week theme - "One Mission. One Team."
Sperry said individuals from the schools couldn't say enough about how much the EMS staff has done for them.
"They're always impressed by how quickly the first responders get to a school and are ready to step in and help a student or staff member," she said. "I think they also really appreciate how the personnel are able to calm students."
Babetta Glasco, also an emergency department nurse, decided to "run" with the local EMS team for about a year to experience what it was like to be "on their side of things."
"I actually had a heart attack some years ago, and I was a cardiac nurse at the time," she said Wednesday. "Being a part of the EMS team was an amazing experience, but it really just made me appreciate what they do every day even more."
Glasco knows the importance of time when it comes to heart-related calls that first responders answer, both because of her work and her personal experience.
"Time is heart muscle," she said. "And our EMS people know that. They keep up with their training and education, they are great with communicating with hospital staff, and a lot of times they do all this without a thank you."
Sperry agreed that oftentimes EMS personnel go without any kind of recognition for their quick thinking and personal care.
"That's why we wanted to take this time out of their busy schedules to make sure they know we can't do what we do without them," she said.
After responding to a heart- or chest pain-related call, EMS personnel can conduct an EKG on the patient to decide if he or she needs more advanced care from another location, Sperry said.
"There's a lot of new technology and research that is constantly coming out, and they are required to take the time and find out about it," she said. "And they do it, not just because it's their job, but because it means a better patient outcome."
Since working with local EMS personnel, Glasco said she has realized that it takes a special kind of person to do the job. A normal first responder works 12- or 24-hour shifts, and sometimes answers calls even during off time.
With recent events like the devastating tornado in Oklahoma, or the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings, Glasco said it's important to remember the people "running into the mess."
"Our folks are constantly putting others before themselves, and they don't think twice about it," she said. "I'd encourage community members to take a minute and say thank you the next time you see an EMS member, because you never know when they could be responding to save your life."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or email@example.com