NEVERSINK – As they gather around to demonstrate their new all-electric Stryker stretcher in their state-of-the-art Demers ambulance rig, the members of the Neversink Fire Department Emergency …
NEVERSINK – As they gather around to demonstrate their new all-electric Stryker stretcher in their state-of-the-art Demers ambulance rig, the members of the Neversink Fire Department Emergency Medical Service (NFDEMS) show obvious pride in their skills and equipment.
Founded in 1956, the NFDEMS – formerly known as the Neversink Ambulance Auxiliary – currently has 18 active members, and is funded by tax money received from the Neversink fire district. Donations from the community supplement that funding
Besides purchasing equipment, the NFDEMS uses their funding to host Sullivan Lifelines, an educational opportunity for area EMS providers. According to Captain Ann Bivins, the day-long seminar presents speakers who cover topics related to emergency medical services. These help “to satisfy requirements to renew our individual EMT licenses every three years.”
Each EMT must take classes in order to have their licenses renewed. Modules include neurology, cardiology, pediatrics, geriatrics, stroke, trauma, obstetrics, overdoses, and all the things an EMT might come in contact with.
NFDEMS answers around 150 calls per year in their district and provides mutual aid to neighboring districts. Calls range from car accidents, strokes and overdoses to everything in between. And clearly, the new ambulance ($244,000) and stretcher ($50,000) makes caring for patients easier and more efficient.
“One provider can operate the stretcher, which is good because usually there’s only two of us,” said Bivins. “And the stretcher goes up and down by itself.”
The old ambulance rig was 27-years-old.
Recruitment is an issue in every service organization. Bivins explains that the organization uses social media and “attends community functions like the Giant Pumpkin Party. We hope people will be interested in what we’re doing. We have demonstrations and hand out information. Even if you give them a key chain or a pen or something that reminds them, hopefully we’ll get more members.”
Sharon Doyle, 2nd Lieutenant for the squad, mentioned they “also have a junior member program for 16 - 18 year olds. Students who are interested in medical careers seek out EMS to give them a feeling of what a medical career is going to be about, and if it’s suitable for them.” And Bivins adds, “They can become EMTs when they’re 17, and they’ll have a good job when they’re in college.”
Sixteen-year-old Jayden Siegler is a brand-new junior member.
“I want to be able to help people out, and I wanted the community service hours,” Siegler said.
She’s also been a member of the fire department for a few years, helping out on calls, and assisting with cleaning and organizing, plus she’s known as the “batter girl” for the famous Neversink Fire Department pancake breakfasts.
Speaking of the fire department, Bivins explains that many of the firemen, while not EMS members, get trained to drive the ambulance. First Lieutenant Coby Denman is in charge of the six-hour driver training along with Doyle.
Every EMT must take an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course every three years, regardless of whether or not they are designated ambulance drivers.
Eager to demonstrate another piece of equipment, the squad breaks out the Reeves Stretcher.
“When people can’t walk and we can’t get the big stretcher to them, we have to carry them out,” explained Bivins. “Sometimes they fall in the bathroom or in the space between the bed and the wall.”
NFDEMS’ current project (in conjunction with the fire department) is called the "File for Life.”
It’s a packet that “we are delivering to each household in our district,” detailed Bivins.
“In the packet are forms that detail confidential health information crucial in the event of an emergency,” such as medical conditions, provider, phone number, allergies, medications, doses, health care proxy, etc.
“Once the packets are completed, they are placed in a prominent place in the patient’s home (like on the refrigerator) to be used only if needed,” she said.
The NFDEMS is currently celebrating National EMS Week – May 15-21.
“It’s significant because we get to celebrate,” said Bivins “We celebrate each other and the good work we have done, the community that we care for, the associations we have with other providers on a county, regional and state basis. On drill nights, we practice and prepare. We polish our skills and teach new ones. We pre-plan our approach to residents we know will be calling us. We make sure that the ambulance is clean and fully stocked.”
If you see an EMS provider this week, whether volunteer or paid, be sure to say, “thank you.” Because as NFDEMS President Arthur Rubenzahl said, “We’re not trying to be heroes, we’re trying to improve the quality of life for our patients.”
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