Community Heroes: Local EMTs and paramedics continue to answer the call

Community Heroes

(WJHL) — EMS members are a lifeline for those with medical emergencies. It’s been difficult lately with more people retiring than new recruits entering the field. Local EMS leaders are trying to ride out the pandemic while giving their workers a good work-life balance.

Emergency medical services is a tough job on its own. The work is physical, but the mental aspect can weigh just as heavily. That’s why Chief of EMS in Unicoi County Chief Adam Copas is trying to lessen the impact of being short-staffed.

“We try to balance that by looking at the amount of hours we allow people to work,” he said. “And we keep track of that to make sure we’re not causing workplace fatigue, or causing unsafe work environments for them, or unsafe environments for them at home.”

With fewer people entering the field, Copas says it’s important current employees stay healthy and motivated.

“So, we need to take care of the employees that we have, and make sure they enjoy coming to work, and when they do come to work, they experience a good work environment and they feel valued and like they are making a difference,” he says.

Washington County, Tennessee EMS Chief Dan Wheeley says the field is evolving and changes need to happen to keep interest high and people applying.

“It’s going to take changing how we recruit and how we train our medics, EMT’s, and fundamentally figuring out how to get people excited about it as a career,” Wheeley said.

Until then, both Copas and Wheeley agree the job is still rewarding, and worth changing with the times.

“At the end of the day, it is a very rewarding job,” Wheeley said. “EMT’s and medics make a difference in peoples’ lives. There’s a camaraderie built in this kind of work that you don’t tend to get in other jobs.”

Copas said, “Working in emergency services and working in EMS is a good career, it pays us a good wage for the area in itself, and you have the opportunity to make a difference in the job you do each and every day.”

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