City’s EMS celebrates 50 years
This year, Siloam Springs’ Emergency Medical Service turns 50 years old. That milestone was celebrated last week, which also marked the 43rd annual National EMS Week.
Siloam Springs’ first responders held a celebration at Fire Station 1 on Friday, May 26, which included activities and food for those present.
Points of interest at the celebration included a helicopter for visitors to inspect, years worth of EMS equipment on display, informative displays and framed important documents. Fire Chief Jeremey Criner also gave a short presentation to welcome visitors and honor retirees.
Before closing the short speaking-portion of the event, Criner asked that all former members of Siloam Springs’ EMS service stand to be recognized for their service. The retirees were given a round of applause.
One of those honored was Vestor Cripps, who has volunteered at the Siloam Springs Fire Department since April of 1989. During that time, Cripps also served with the Gentry Fire Department, first as a volunteer, then as Fire Chief.
Criner presented a ceremonial fire ax to Cripps, who formally retires at the end of the month.
Deputy Fire Chief Brent Ford gave a brief presentation of the history of the city’s EMS.
“In 1967, basically a basic life support service began,” Ford said. “And that was the staple of the day - basic life support.”
The fledgeling department had
to contract out training when leaders chose to expand service to include advanced life support. At least two members of the first class of paramedics for the city were present.
Ford spoke about the advancements the department has made over the years. A document was on display that detailed some of the EMS team’s first ambulances — a pair of 1972 GMC vans and a pair of 1964 Cadillac ambulances for longer trips.
Ordinance 624, which established the ambulance service in 1967, was
A s you can kind of tell from the equipment out here, there’s a lot that has changed for the EMS service over the last 50 years. The changes are literally daily. Brent Ford Deputy Fire Chief
also on display in a frame. The ordinance said that the city voted to declare ambulance service a public utility after the existing service announced it was going out of business on April 31, 1967. The city found no new service to replace it, and so established its own EMS, according to the ordinance text.
“As you can kind of tell from the equipment out here, there’s a lot that has changed for the EMS service over the last 50 years,” Ford said. “The changes are literally daily.”
One of those changes is an effort to help members of the public respond to emergencies when they see them. Ford said the department will host a CPR class at the Siloam Springs Farmers Market on June 10 from 9 a.m. to noon. If members of the public know basic CPR techniques, it drastically raises victim survivability rates, Ford said.
Siloam Springs Fire Chief Jeremey Criner (left) presented Vestor Cripps with a ceremonial fire axe during the 50 years of EMS celebration Friday.
A member of the Siloam Springs Fire Department demonstrated CPR techniques as part of an informative booth.