EMS Strong: Keeping composure..

IMH Emergency Medical Service (EMS) employs 15 Paramedics, 2 Intermediates, and 11 Basic EMTs. Collectively, they have over 340 years of service, including five individuals with more than 20 years each.

They service Iroquois County with 2 ambulance bays located in Watseka and Gilman. In 2017, IMH EMS responded to 4,517 calls.

While each call is important…some calls are more memorable than others..

One thing that no one mentions is how often the composure an EMT is tested. This could be at times when anyone else would be bursting with laughter or sobbing uncontrollably. Working in such a small community, many times patients are friends, family, or someone who has been transported before. Knowing the patients can make bad calls worse and bizarre calls even more bizarre.

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A call came in for EMS to respond for a male patient who was experiencing a seizure. When the IMH team arrived the local EMS team was already on scene – our team immediately noticed that everyone was just standing around, which is not normal. The EMTs began to wonder, “Where is the patient and why is everyone just standing outside?!” They tried talking to one of the local volunteer EMS team members in attempt to answer that very question, but didn’t get much help. Our team was getting nowhere fast, and everyone was still loitering.

Then, out of the crowd comes a man walking towards the EMT as she was preparing to pull the cot from the back of the ambulance. The man is smoking a cigarette, laughing, and joking with some of the bystanders on scene. He walked right up to the EMT – She asked if he was the patient and if so, what was going on, why did he call 911? The man’s response was one to remember. He immediately held up his hand in the front of the EMT’s face, bent his index finger a couple of times, and proceeded to tell her that he was having a seizure.

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This is where the composure comes in, because anyone else might have burst out laughing, but an EMT can’t do that. Every call must be treated with the same level of seriousness and professionalism. If the man said he was having a seizure – he had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. It is not up to the EMTs to make the diagnosis call. They are trained to treat symptoms and provide the treatment required for the patient to make it to a doctor. This patient was no different and he was transported to the hospital.  Whether, he was actually ill or just needed a ride to the hospital, we may never know.

EMTs can often seem cold or emotionless, but in this line of work they never know what they may come across. Some calls they have to shut themselves down so that they can care for a friend, neighbor, or family member and other calls they need to be able to bite their tongue and do their job. Either way, it can take a toll on a person..

Thank you to the many EMTs for all your sacrifices – seen and unseen – in order to be physically and mentally there when we need you!!

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