Northern Light Health honors critical role of EMS providers

BREWER — This week, May 19-25, Northern Light Health is recognizing the dedication and commitment of our Emergency Medical Services team as part of National EMS Week. This year’s EMS Week theme is “Honoring Our Past, Forging Our Future.”

“Prehospital medicine has grown exponentially since we cared for humans in hearses with little more than oxygen and bleeding control,” says Andi McGraw, associate vice president of Emergency Medical Services. “We are now being recognized as essential healthcare professionals more than ever. We have come from a time when the care provided for the sick and injured was minimal and largely focused on getting a patient to the Emergency Department.”

Over the past year, Northern Light Health’s EMS team received more than 24,000 calls from Aroostook County to central Maine and has seen more than 30 EMS caregivers achieve licensure or advanced licensure. The care EMS crews now provide is evidence-based care and often delivered where the patient is found before transportation even begins. This stems from a movement over recent years to provide the right care at the right location, avoiding overloading the Emergency Department with patients who don’t necessarily need those services.

Thankfully, many Mainers will never experience exactly what is involved with Emergency Medical Services or see first-hand what EMS providers do. For most, the role of EMS is a vague idea based largely on what is seen in movies or television, but their roles are much more varied. Today, EMS is an integral part of the healthcare team involved in a patient’s journey. EMS clinicians at Northern Light Health include emergency medical technicians (EMT), advanced emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. All levels of licensure provide lifesaving care in emergencies, and each level has equipment and medication to begin care immediately upon arrival at a scene.

“Honoring Our Past, Forging Our Future” also speaks to how EMS personnel span generations. McGraw notes that, in addition to veterans who have spent decades in EMS, she’s seen an influx of new or young providers entering the industry.

“After only being in EMS for seven months, I can already tell what a great profession it is,” says Sydnee Cohen, EMT. “This is a field with a lot of opportunities for advancement. Although this line of work has sometimes shown to be physically and mentally taxing, it is incredibly rewarding because I’m in a position where I can positively impact others’ lives. Each provider I work with has had a positive influence on my life, helping me to become more efficient as a provider myself.”

“Of all the thoughts I have about EMS Week, I always come back to the most valuable aspect of EMS: The people who provide the care,” adds McGraw. “EMS clinicians are genuinely good people with a deeply innate ability to provide comfort to those who are having what is most likely their worst day. I am very proud of everyone on my team. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people.”

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