Emergency services personnel always on call during the holidays
Work does not stop for first responders during the holiday season
Things normally speed up for everyone during November and December, but it is not usually because of work. The holiday rush to buy gifts for loved ones, food for parties and holiday decorations becomes the reality for most citizens.
From the start of December to the stretch into the new calendar year, many people spend time with family, friends and loved ones as they clear the finish line of the year that passed.
But for Charles County’s Department of Emergency Services and emergency personnel, their holiday is spent with those who they work with. Helping people is a year round job, Corey Wright, a paramedic with Charles County EMS, said. And it does not stop for any holiday.
“We’re staffed 24/7, 365 no matter if its a holiday or not. Operations remain the same,” Wright said.
In fact, Wright said, EMS may be needed more during the holidays. There is “an influx” of calls during the holiday period, he said, for different reasons — some even relating to specific holi- days themselves.
The holidays “tend to be one of our busiest times per year,” he said. Though, he said it is dif- ficult to tell exactly why calls increase during these times, Wright said.
Some people are home alone and lonely, he said, and tend to call 911 because of that. Other things like cold weather getting people sick also factor in, he said.
But there are also more people in the area, gen- erally, during this time, Wright said. There are people who come home from school or from work to visit their homes and families during these times. And that creates a bit more of a need, he said.
So because of that, he said, first responders have to stay on their toes and be ready to take any call that comes their way. As far as wanting to be home during the holidays him- self, Wright said “it cer- tainly doesn’t bother us.”
“We get into this profession because we all care about people. It is a sacrifice to be away from our family during the hol- idays, but we understand there’s a public need for us,” he said. “We’re happy to be here. We’re happy to make a difference.”
John Hackley, the communications lieutenant for the EMS Call Center, agreed with Wright. This time of year is always a “hustle and bustle” time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, which means there will be more incidents and more people who need help.
People are Christmas shopping and doing differ- ent things with their fami- lies and anything can hap- pen during those times, he said. It is “much, much busier,” he said.
But it is not a thankless time for EMS, Hackley said. There are more people during this time of year who give praise to emergency personnel and call takers than any other time per year.
“We get more thanks, more praise, due to the fact that its the holiday season. Nobody wants to deal with an emergency because it’s a bit rougher on them during this time per year,” he said.
The calls can range from anything from a tur- key frier going haywire to Christmas trees catching fire. But still, on a daily ba- sis, “run of the mill” calls dealing with typical issues such as sick or injured people are still pervasive in the community.
Calls increase by “a few percent” during the holidays, he said, but not drastically more. But either way, the job remains the same, he said, and protocols are still in place.
“When you make a call, just be aware that there are a series of questions they’re going to ask you,” he said. “Sometimes citizens get impatient, but we’re trying to help.”
A Christmas Tree sits in the front of the Charles County Emergency Services Call Center on Christmas Eve as a constant reminder to call takers about the holiday.