2018-05-18 / In the Know

Recognizing Scarborough’s EMS providers

By B. Michael Thurlow Special to the Leader

This coming week, May 20 through May 26, is National EMS (Emergency Medical Services) week. Since 1974 this week has been set aside each year to recognize the nation’s first responders who provide pre-hospital emergency care and transportation to the emergency department.

It provides us with the opportunity to recognize and honor the dedication of those special individuals who are on the front lines of providing lifesaving day to day emergency medical services to our citizens and visitors.

The Scarborough Rescue was the first ambulance service in the state of Maine formed in the 1950s by local Dr. Phillip Haigis due to the unusually high incidents of serious motor vehicle accidents particularly on the very busy Route 1 corridor before the Maine Turnpike was built.

In those early days it was completely staffed by local volunteers, many of whom were members of the Scarborough Lions Club, a longtime supporter of the Scarborough Rescue Unit.

In those early days there really wasn’t a formal EMS system.

Our local family doctor trained those early volunteers in basic first aid and they transported patients to the hospital in an old panel truck.

The EMS service that the Scarborough Fire Department provides has changed dramatically over the past 70 years.

We now employ 28 full-time EMS professionals, the majority of whom are licensed to the paramedic level.

Additionally, we have dozens of call and per diem members that are an integral part of our EMS system. We staff two ambulances 24/7/365 and have a third that fills in when one of the other units is being serviced, or as a third responding unit for calls with multiple patients, or when we have to respond to multiple calls at the same time.

Our modern EMS system is truly an integrated first response system where police officers who are out patrolling town-wide, and firefighters responding from the neighborhood fire stations, are trained and equipped with automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) so they can respond promptly and institute life saving measures to cardiac arrest victims throughout the community even before the rescue unit arrives.

We work as a team to provide the best possible emergency pre-hospital care available.

As you might imagine, the best EMS system in the world is only as good as the individual providers who constantly train and work hard every day to provide competent and compassionate healthcare to our citizens and visitors.

National EMS week is our opportunity to pause and give thanks for the outstanding EMS service that we are fortunate to have here in Scarborough.

It is also a great time to thank all of our EMS professionals for the dedicated and professional service they provide each and every day.

If you have any questions about this article or any fire department issue you may contact me at mthurlow@scarboroughmaine.org or 730-4201.

B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

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