Paramedics, police, firefighters and hospital administrators gathered outside Porter Regional Hospital’s emergency bay Thursday afternoon for an EMS Week cookout as part of a celebration for area emergency workers.
“It’s a good limelight opportunity because they don’t like to be in the limelight,” EMS director Ann Brandl said. “They like to help others.”
Brandl, who said her favorite part about her profession is saving lives, thinks the career deserves this little bit of recognition since her colleagues do not want it the rest of the year.
Even when they are supposed to be on the receiving end of kindness, EMS workers have still found a way to give back, Brandl said. As part of the festivities, there was an EMS exposition whose proceeds went to help local charity 500 Turkeys. Porter Regional made a donation and many people showed up to help support the cause.
Hospital CEO Stephen Lunn said Thursday’s lunch was another way for the hospital to thank the men and women who work around the clock every day of the year. It was also an opportunity to thank EMS workers and give them a chance to step away from their high-pressure jobs for an hour or so and relax.
“When they get a chance to cut loose and have fun, it’s definitely a fun group of people,” Lunn said.
For emergency director Deb Shepherd, the lunch is the best part about EMS Week because of the great social opportunity it presents.
“You get to meet people, you get to stop for a minute and say hi, and learn names,” Shepherd said. “It’s just about building that relationship together.”
When Shepherd came to Porter Regional from a Chicago hospital in 2013, she knew it was important to strengthen the connection between ER and EMS workers, she said. She had seen the way it helped her previous hospital and wanted to apply it to her new one.
Throughout her time as a medical professional, she has only gone on one ambulance call, and she said she found it nearly impossible to put in an IV in the moving vehicle. The experience gave her an even greater appreciation for first responders.
“The job they do in the field is something I could never do,” said Shepherd. “It’s incredible.”
President Gerald Ford created EMS Week in 1974, and EMS coordinator Dale Lanham said it was later also recognized at the state level. While it has not always been during this time, the third week of May has been designated for EMS Week the past few years.
All over the country, EMS workers have to deal with tragedies ranging from everyday incidents to national tragedies like the Sept. 11 attacks, but EMS Week is able to highlight the good parts about the job.
“This is a nice thing to have, that it’s a celebration and not a tragic event,” Lanham said.
Porter Hospital has had treats for the workers all week as well as the lunch, Lanham said. Churches and other organizations have also taken the time to recognize EMS Workers.
EMS Week can help raise awareness for the importance of having emergency workers. Lanham said people should always call for assistance in serious situations, especially when someone needs to get to the hospital right away, because they are trained to provide the best help.
“We can bring the ER right to them,” Lanham said.