Emergency Medical Services are rarely thought of as we past though our normal routine and go about our daily business. As a society, we have become accustomed to knowing that one simple call to 911 in an emergency will bring lifesaving assistance and help will be on the way.
The staff and personnel of the Williams County Emergency Medical Services occupy the field here in Williams County, and they are truly unsung heroes serving quietly in the background. Local citizens understand that when a call goes out for assistance, help will arrive in a timely manner and that is a reflection of the professionalism and competence of these lifesaving angles.
The Williams County EMS is led by Director Jim Hicks, and Director Hicks is assisted by Training Coordinator Connie Brigle, who has served the county since the inception of the Williams County EMS in August of 1979. The organization consists of 15 full time Emergency Medical Technicians along with 75 EMT’s categorized as “Intermittent” on call team members. The Williams County EMS also maintains Ambulances with basic lifesaving equipment in Edgerton, Edon, Pioneer and Stryker along with 2 fully staffed Life Squads (Life Squad 1 and Life Squad 2) on station in the county 24 hours a day with EMT’s and the full range of modern, up to date lifesaving equipment. Life Squads 1 and 2 will position themselves strategically across Williams County in order to provide the greatest coverage and quickest response times should their services be needed. According to Training Coordinator Brigle, residents require EMS services on average approximately 300 times a month here in Williams County.
The professionals who stand watch 24 hours a day at the EMS for the residents of Williams County fall in four different main categories: First responders, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic. Each level in the profession has various requirements for education and training to attain certification and become eligible to perform services. The requirements and level of care each category may perform for patients may be found in the Ohio Administrative Code (ORAC) under section 4765, entitled “State Board of Emergency Medical Services.”
For a first responder (Ex: Police Officer, Sheriff Deputy, Firefighter, etc.) ORAC 4765.35 defines the services they may perform as: “A first responder may provide limited emergency medical services to patients until the arrival of an emergency medical technician-basic, emergency medical technician-intermediate, or emergency medical technician-paramedic. In an emergency, a first responder may render emergency medical services such as opening and maintaining an airway, giving mouth to barrier ventilation, chest compressions, electrical interventions with automated defibrillators to support or correct the cardiac function and other methods determined by the board, controlling of hemorrhage, manual stabilization of fractures, bandaging, assisting in childbirth, and determining triage of trauma victims.” First Responders are those who generally arrive at a call first, as they may be in close proximity to the individual requiring assistance. These providers will stabilize the patient and render assistance until one of the Life Squad’s arrive on the scene.
The next category EMT-Basic is defined by ORAC 4765.37 and the services a EMT-Basic may perform are: An emergency medical technician-basic may operate, or be responsible for operation of, an ambulance and may provide emergency medical services to patients. In an emergency, an EMT-basic may determine the nature and extent of illness or injury and establish priority for required emergency medical services. An EMT-basic may render emergency medical services such as opening and maintaining an airway, giving positive pressure ventilation, cardiac resuscitation, electrical interventions with automated defibrillators to support or correct the cardiac function and other methods determined by the board, controlling of hemorrhage, treatment of shock, immobilization of fractures, bandaging, assisting in childbirth, management of mentally disturbed patients, initial care of poison and burn patients, and determining triage of adult and pediatric trauma victims. Where patients must in an emergency be extricated from entrapment, an EMT-basic may assess the extent of injury and render all possible emergency medical services and protection to the entrapped patient; provide light rescue services if an ambulance has not been accompanied by a specialized unit; and after extrication, provide additional care in sorting of the injured in accordance with standard emergency procedures.” Along with the certification required to become an EMT-Basic, continuing education is a constant in the profession and with the rapid advances in medical technology, essential. After meeting specific educational requirements, an EMT-Basic will advance to the next level of certification, EMT-Intermediate.
An EMT-Intermediate certification allows the EMT to perform additional emergency functions. EMT-Intermediate Certifications under ORAC 4765.38 allow the following level of emergency services: “An emergency medical technician-intermediate shall perform the emergency medical services described in this section in accordance with this chapter and any rules adopted under it. An EMT-I may do any of the following: Establish and maintain an intravenous lifeline that has been approved by a cooperating physician or physician advisory board, perform cardiac monitoring, perform electrical interventions to support or correct the cardiac function, administer epinephrine, determine triage of adult and pediatric trauma victims.” EMT-Intermediate certified individuals also perform all functions allowed as an EMT-Basic, and as the training progresses up each level of certification, more responsibilities are accumulated.
The final category of certification as an EMT earns the professional the title “Paramedic,” and the range of medical services a Paramedic may perform increases, allowing the response unit the ability to provide the full range of lifesaving techniques available in a medical emergency. Under ORAC 4765.39, a Paramedic may: “ perform cardiac monitoring, perform electrical interventions to support or correct the cardiac function, perform airway procedures, perform relief of pneumothorax, Administer appropriate drugs and intravenous fluids, Determine triage of adult and pediatric trauma victims.” Paramedics make a wide variety of medical decisions and an individual holding a paramedic certification has undergone extensive training and education to attain this level of qualification. In addition to the functions performed at each level of training, Williams County EMS performs numerous other tasks in their daily mission.
The men and women of the Williams County EMS are highly trained professionals who sit quietly in the background until they are needed, and when the call comes in, the residents of Williams County can count on highly trained medical responders to arrive on the scene and render life saving aid to those in need. On average, 300 times a month someone in Williams County calls for assistance. The Williams County EMS responds to a variety of calls ranging from medical emergencies, trauma incidents, accidents of all types as well as performing transfer services from Montpelier and Bryan Hospitals to larger facilities throughout Northwest Ohio. Without the dedication and professionalism of these tireless public servants, residents would be missing a valuable and essential means of attaining emergency aid, and their efforts are greatly appreciated all across Williams County.