LP Research Resources December 8, 2016

Paramedics Working in Disaster Areas

Several tornadoes have touched down in the Midwest and the South recently, reportedly injuring hundreds and killing several people. This is when the profession of an EMT paramedic is vital to a community.

People living in areas susceptible to twisters and tornados know what to do if when they hear the weather warnings or sirens. They know the important tips:

• Don’t get caught in a mobile home, trailer or vehicle.
• If you are in a permanent structure, head to the lowest level possible, and into the center of the building.
• If you are caught outside, lie as flat as possible, preferably in a depression or ditch.
• Avoid bridges and overpasses.

Nonetheless, regardless of school and employee safety and practice drills, regardless of following the FEMA warnings, and despite preparing your home and family as much as possible, storms are unpredictable and they are in control when they arrive.

EMS Providers in Action

Yet despite the dangers and the risk of life, paramedics are often the first EMS personnel on the scene. They search for the missing and injured. They often respond when danger is still present, in the form of debris, weather conditions, fire or electricity, and many other dangers. For these professionals, EMT training and paramedic skills commence the moment emergencies are forthcoming.

Furthermore, these kind of emergency situations require a paramedic to call on his or her paramedic training and fieldwork skills in such a way that the life they are caring for may never make it to a hospital. This is not because death is imminent, but because, often in such catastrophic events, the paramedic must perform emergency medical services due to the lack of a hospital, medical facility, or even an ambulance in which to transport the patient to.

EMT Paramedics in such situations have had to endure the lack of medical facilities, safe roads or passages to ones, and even, in some cases, the lack of EMS transportation because their agency and/or building was the victim of the cataclysmic event. In such cases paramedics find themselves working side by side with law enforcement, doctors and other emergency health care personnel. These EMT trained experts have often had to set up make shift hospitals and triage centers, whether right on the spot, in schools, churches or cafeterias. Whatever and wherever the community can find such facilities, these paramedic heroes go to work, neglecting all self needs and concerns for their own safety, pressing forward to find the missing and help the injured.

EMT paramedics work long, dedicated hours in these disaster situations. Schedules and shifts are tossed aside. Those who are not “on duty” often rush in to offer their time and services. The paramedic rises to the occasion and does not rest until each and every victim has received the very best in emergency medical services. And the very best is just what paramedics do best!