To the Editor:
On February 23, 1945 five men raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi on the Island of Iwo Jima. The monument to this incredible achievement has been made as a memorial to the Marines who served in WWII. But did you know that one of those brave men was not a Marine? He was a Navy Corpsman. In every engagement the Marines have been in, the Corpsman has always been there with his Soldiers. Often with little light and very little resources the Corpsman and the Medic have been there to alleviate pain, treat the injured and the sick, act as the soul and conscience of his unit, and hold his brothers in their time of need.
In these times where the public service agencies have been included in the role of national security, the community has been making stands in the heart of patriotism in support of the veterans who serve abroad and of the veterans of public service who serve on the home front.
Like the Firefighter, Sheriff Deputy, and Police Officer, the Paramedic and EMT have been there to serve their community. Not unlike the Corpsman or Medic, the Paramedic or EMT has performed his or her duty often unnoticed due to the acts performed in the light by his or her brothers and sisters in the Fire Department or Law Enforcement.
Firefighters, Deputies, and Police Officers have been around for a long time. Paramedics as we know them are relatively new to the community service team (about the early 70s). There are a lot of people who associate Paramedics with the Fire Department, but actually more than half of the ambulance service in America is provided by non-fire based agencies. But their service is very real. Paramedics/EMTs do not face constant threat of being shot at like the Corpsman or Medic in time of war, but there are some similarities. Often times Paramedics/EMTs have difficult environments such as little light, cold or wet weather, slippery roads, little resources and even combative patients. They have dangers to face with certain hazardous materials situations, unyielding traffic while working on a car crash scene, and even being assaulted by certain patients or bystanders. I personally know of a few Paramedics who have been shot in the line of duty. I myself have been assaulted countless times.
So please remember the Police Officer and Deputy as they protect you from the threat of violence and crime. They will often enter a scene that is always unpredictable. That Officer or Deputy without prejudice will try their best to provide you the feeling of safety and security.
Please remember the Firefighter as he/she searches the burning house for a loved one, races against time to cut a broken car away from a trapped victim, or does his/her best to save your house or property from the grasp of fire.
And please remember the Paramedic/EMTs as they fight to secure a good airway on a dying patient in the middle of the night in the cold, with little light, doing their best to maintain the life that is so precious in their hands.
As I know most of the people in the Emergency Services who serve Jefferson County I can honestly say that we, career staff and volunteer members, care a great deal for our community and that we will always be there to answer the call.
Michael K. Lepin, EMT-P
Training Officer, JCEMS