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911 – How may I help you?

by Ken Henderson
May 8, 2019

The voice of the dispatcher is the voice you want to hear.  You have a medical emergency and want help.  From there, the signal goes out over the radio to alert the ambulance crew on this shift. In just minutes, HFD ambulance is rolling with a crew of two or three EMT’s trained and experienced to assist when most needed. Behind the scenes is a staff of about 30 certified Emergency Medical Technicians who staff shifts that span every hour of the seven day week.  Training on-line and in-class is required to maintain their readiness. They never know what type of calls they will be on.  The variety is endless.  Lift assist to heart attacks, car accidents to falls and broken bones, difficult breathing to diabetic reactions, the list goes on.  EMT’s are expected to deal with it all.  More severe incidents may require backup from ALS ambulance services. ALS crews have additional, specialized equipment for administering intravenous medications and interventions. MedFlight and LifeFlight helicopter services are another resource based on severity.  And the number of calls increases each year.  HFD ambulance made 982 calls last year! Ironically, calls often come in bunches so ambulance #2 also responds with its own EMT crew.  Mutual aid from neighboring towns assists when demand is high. Just imagine the coordination of staff and equipment required to respond when the call comes.

Tom Dunlay and Ronda Matson

Talking with EMT’s who’ve served for decades reminds us of how well equipped the town is for emergency response.  Decades ago, the “ambulance” was more like a modified station wagon or worse an old hearse. Yikes! Since then, equipment and training have progressed to what we currently see for an ambulance with technology and medical support far more advanced. Patient transfers aren’t always just to Milford, Framingham or Natick Hospitals either.  In severe cases, transports are to Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel, Mass General and Brigham and Women’s in Boston, Marlboro, and UMass Worcester. Those driving the ambulances receive extra driver training to be confident, safe drivers in all kinds of situations.  Who knew it takes all this prep? And once the call is completed, the follow-up paperwork comes next.

Ronda Matson completes the paperwork

Our emergency responders come from all walks of life, for instance: sales director, registered nurses, financial planner, local contractors, landscapers and more.  Each has their own way of adjusting their schedules to take shifts on the HFD Ambulance.  They are called out anytime during their 12 hour shift(s).  Just when you go to cut that birthday cake, watch that game, party with some friends, your pager alerts and off you go to help someone in need. It’s hard at times balancing personal life and service to your town.  Just try getting back to sleep after a night call! We thank you for your sacrifices.

When asked, “Why do you do it?” The answers you get are “We know we make a difference” and “We like helping people”. This is what makes the Holliston Fire and Emergency Services an organized group of citizens who give so much. EMT’s, firefighters and dispatchers all are a team pulling together. When you see them drive by, lights flashing and sirens blaring, pull over and think of their safety and service. 

It’s been enjoyable and educational for this reporter writing these brief glimpses into the workings of our town’s fire and emergency services.  Hope it’s been enjoyable for you too. Once again, it reminds us that Holliston is a special place to live.  Salute to our HFD and Chief Cassidy who leads this devoted group of trained emergency responders.

 

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Comments (1)

Great stuff Ken!

- Dave Dubin | 5/8/19 10:20 AM

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