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Westport 1/16

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but this community badly needs more people on the ambulance squad. That need was illustrated vividly last Sunday night-Monday morning, when there were four EMS calls in under twelve hours-one just before midnight, one just before seven a.m., and two at the same time just after nine in the morning. That last event is a rare occurrence, but not unknown.

EMS pages can be anything from a bloody multi-vehicle accident on the Northway (in which case firefighters are paged out, too) to an elderly person who's fallen and requires assistance and possibly some light medical attention. Thank heaven none of the calls that night and morning involved a serious or life-threatening injury. All the calls were answered promptly and professionally, as always.

As a volunteer firefighter who hopes to become an EMT soon, I pitched in when I heard the double page, because I knew extra hands might be helpful. During the call, I didn't hear a single complaint from those whose sleep and then work time had been disrupted. Quite the opposite-I recieved a steady stream of valuable explanations as these dedicated technicians did their work, along with plenty of light-hearted banter.

But here's my question to readers of this column: how fair is it to ask a handful of volunteers-I believe you can count our EMTs on one hand-to shoulder such a heavy burden?

Unlike when the siren goes off and everyone for miles around knows that the firefighters have been called, members of the public don't know when an EMS page goes out unless they have a scanner or happen to see the ambulance on its way. So the frequency of EMS calls is something that can easily fall off the radar screen. But these calls are far more frequent than you might think, especially in winter, with its special set of health issues for the elderly and the infirm.

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