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National EMS Week: Local first responder shares what it's like on the front lines

Calhoun County is home the South Carolina EMS Memorial. Each brick has the names of those who dedicated their lives to first responder agencies across the state.

CALHOUN COUNTY, S.C. — It's National EMS Week, a week honoring the contributions of EMS technicians to our communities.

“It’s a pretty tough job sometimes. Lots of days are easy, but then lots of days are really hard, and the hard days are tough," said Calhoun County EMS Shift Supervisor Kelsey Willis.

When most people run away from danger, EMS workers are on the front lines responding to it. 

“We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we learn to disassociate it with our normal life. However, when you do run a call that hits close to home, it stays with you for a while," said Willis.

As a small rural agency, he says they don't get as many calls as the larger counties and don't have access to as many resources. However, this doesn't make the job any easier.

“We respond to calls and they say, ‘Just get me to the hospital.’ Well no actually there’s a lot of stuff we can do right here to fix the problem," said Willis.

He says much of the life-saving work starts as soon as a patient enters a paramedic vehicle. For diabetes patients, they are able to help bring their blood sugar levels up which in some cases would save them a trip to the hospital.

If someone's lung collapses, they are able to restore oxygen to their lungs.

Willis says although the work is taxing, he feels it's worth it.

Calhoun County is home of the South Carolina EMS memorial. Each brick has the names of those who dedicated their lives to first responder agencies across the state. Outside of the Calhoun County EMS training office in Sandy Run is a memorial honoring those who died in the line of duty, and dedicated their lives to first responder agencies throughout South Carolina.

“It’s not the big calls, it’s not the really bad calls a lot of times that you make a difference on. It’s the little old lady whose fallen and she’s not injured but she’s alone and you go help her up you know that’s a big deal to me," he said.

Starting this month, the Calhoun County EMS will be able to perform ultrasounds in the back of the ambulance. This will help them expedite the process of receiving a diagnosis for traumatic injuries.

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