Sound the sirens and flash the lights, Paramedic Services Week is cause for celebration, stat!
York Region Paramedic Services is ringing in the annual awareness week – the 18th in its history – with dozens of events in Markham and beyond May 28 to June 3. Between open houses at stations and plenty of activity on social media, the public won’t have to search far to participate in the seven-day extravaganza.
“It brings together communities and paramedics to recognize the dedication of those who provide day to day lifesaving services on the front line,” said David Eeles, York Region Paramedic Services divisional chief.
“It’s also about raising public awareness about safety issues, how to prevent injuries and what do to in the event of a medical emergency.”
Last year, 56,000 patients saw the work York Region paramedics do firsthand. The agency has 21 stations and 83 ambulances and response vehicles at the ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all the way from Georgina to Markham.
The national awareness week is a chance for the public to learn more about the profession and meet some of the more than 500 paramedics that work in York Region. The service wants people to understand paramedics do more than just give patients a ride to the hospital, they play a critical role in treating sick or injured people when nurses and doctors are out of reach.
It’s also a chance for the emergency service to highlight some of its other areas of expertise – making assessments and referrals, educating the public and helping patients with chronic diseases manage their conditions.
“They’re initiatives that are aimed at reducing emergency department visits and wait times. It has a big affect across the whole system and it encourages community health,” said Eeles.
“We want people to know that paramedics provide care that goes beyond the ambulance.”
The week isn’t just for celebrating the unsung heroes who come a-calling when emergencies unfold, it’s also about educating the public about their own role – from the moment they dial 911 to the second the ambulance arrives.
“Often when people are having an emergency, they’re scrambling, ‘What do I do? What do I do?’” said Eeles.
“We also want to talk about what the community can do for us, as well as what we can do for the community.”
Knowing when a situation warrants a call to paramedics is just half the battle. Eeles said there are several other key things the public should remember in an emergency situation.
911 callers should give dispatchers specific details including the exact address, a callback phone number and information about the patient. Bystanders should send someone to meet the paramedics outside, unlock doors and guide the first responders into the building. If possible, another person can gather the medication the patient is taking while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
Though the public should thank the important first responders year round, Paramedic Services Week shines the spotlight on the core community resource.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase the wonderful efforts of our staff that are there 24-7, 365 days a year… They’re a dedicated and compassionate lot,” said Eeles.
“It’s also an opportunity for the community to understand their obligation to use the service wisely.”
York Region Paramedic Services
By the numbers…
56,000+ – Number of patients transported in 2016
500+ – Members of the York Region Paramedic Service team
83 – Ambulances and response vehicles
21 – Number of stations
7 – Paramedics, on average, respond to one call every 7 minutes
1 – Multi-patient vehicle