Emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel al­ways on call dur­ing the hol­i­days

Work does not stop for first re­spon­ders dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

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.”

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL SYKES II

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.

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