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Home > Topics > Mass Casualty Incidents
May 26, 2011
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

After disaster, signs of courage and support

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: In Joplin, Missouri, the site of the most recent deadly tornado from an already devastating storm season, the search continues for those lost amid the debris.

We have been having a hellava spring in terms of natural disasters.

With EMS week come and gone, it's easy for us to slide back into anonymity and perform our jobs without a lot of publicity. I think we're good with that; it's one of the great reasons I love our profession. We go all out to care for others, and with little expectation in return.

However, I do think it's critical to remind ourselves just how major events such as the one in Joplin, Mo. affect not only the communities, but us as well.

On Sunday night I wrote a quick email to a colleague, a paramedic and nurse who is the paramedic program director at a Missouri community college. I am sharing his email response, as it really captures the spirit of what has happened and what we do to comfort those who have lost a lot. He writes:

"I just got back from helping with the disaster relief. I worked with others at [the] Freeman Health Center as patients were evacuated from St. John's Health Center. I wish I could have stayed and helped longer. However, I can say I have seen a lot in my time, but never such destruction. I took my camera, but could not get myself to take one picture."

"In the midst of all of the suffering and pain, the community showed what great Americans they were. Neighbors helped neighbors and people with pick up trucks went out into the community and brought us the sick and injured -- without any government assistance!"

"With all this destruction, the key to the recovery is in the heart of each American to reach out to one another. Perhaps the news should switch to those kind of stories."

And like a true EMS professional and caregiver, my friend goes on to express his conflict:

"Wish I could have stayed longer, but half of my part time instructors are on the Task Force Team and someone has to be here to try to teach class. [They] are overwhelmed."

To my friend and the hundreds of other rescuers in Joplin and other areas hit by past, current and future disasters, I tip my hat to you. You exemplify the courage and ethic needed to help our communities when they need it the most.

 

About the author

EMS1 Editor in Chief Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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