HFMVA Awards Banquet

The following is excerpted from a speech made by Chief Ed Sheidlower at our 2015 Annual Award Banquet:

Fifty years!   We have just completed our 50th year of EMS service to our community.  Fifty years is quite an accomplishment.  In 1964, when EMS was added in our community, things were very different.  A postage stamp cost .05, a loaf of bread was .20 and a ticket to the movies was $ 1.25.  lt was the last of the post-war generation and marked the start of some interesting times.  Lucky Charms hit the shelves for the first time; as did Pop-Tarts and GI Joe and the first Mustang rolled off assembly lines.  Buffalo Wings were created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. The Beatles arrived in the U.S. appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in February and by April had the top five slots on the Billboard charts.  Jeopardy premiered on TV along with Bewitched, Underdog, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Addams Family, the Munsters and Gilligan’s Island.  Best of all, the 8 track cartridge debuted!

Just as our agency was being created, it was reported that in our country 52 million accidental injuries killed 107,000; with 49,000 of them as a result of motor vehicle accidents.  President Johnson, after hearing that more Americans died that year from auto and other accidents than in the 8 years of the Vietnam War plus Korean War, signed the National Highway Safety Act, creating the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  This prompted a study by the National Research Council, who published a research paper called, “Accidental Death and Disability- the Neglected Disease of Modern Society“.  This became known as the “white paper”.  This work was the catalyst for improving the delivery of prehospital care to this day.  An excerpt from the report states:  “Expert consultants returning from both Korea and Vietnam have publicly asserted that, if seriously wounded, their chances for survival would be better in the zone of combat than on the average city street.”  Two years later, the American Ambulance Association published an article that stated that as many as 25,000 Americans are either crippled or left permanently disabled as a result of the efforts of untrained or poorly trained ambulance personnel.  This led to the first nationally recognized curriculum for EMS-emergency medical technician-ambulance (EMT-A), which was published in 1969. Many consider this document to be the birth of modern EMS. Prior to this time, one report found that more than 50% of the nation’s ambulance services were being covered by more than 12,000 morticians.

But the biggest change to EMS came in 1971, when the television show Emergency debuted. Emergency contributed to changing public attitudes concerning the fire service and emergency medical care.  At the start of the show, there were only 12 medic units in the entire country.  Four years later, at least 50% of the population of this country, were within 10 minutes of a medic unit. EMS had gone main stream.

So, here we are 50 years after the creation of our agency.  A lot has changed in that period and it seems that change is now coming at a greater pace.  EMS is now taking on an expanded role in the treatment and ultimate outcome of patients.  The day of loading a patient on an ambulance and just driving to the hospital are long gone.  Our agency has a lot to be proud of.  We continue to set the standard when it comes to covering our calls. That is not to say that it has not been without challenges.  lt is a commitment for a Member of our agency to cover shifts, attend required meetings and trainings and for a Medic to get all of those CMEs to stay a Medic.  lt takes a special person to enter the field of EMS in the first place, but to do so as a volunteer, is a special commitment.  We in EMS have a unique opportunity that many others never experience.  We make a difference in people’s lives. As I have said in the past, patients remember you.  When they are at their most vulnerable, they will invite you in their homes and expect you to help them. You will affect their lives and the way that you treat them, the way that you speak to them, will have a lasting impact on them.  lt is why years later, patients stop us and say thank you for helping them on a call that we are likely to not even remember. Having that impact on someone is a powerful honor and one that although easy to overlook should not be forgotten.

A quote from Elizabeth Andrew:

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”

We are part of a community and we help to set the stage for our community.  lt was once said:

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”  Author Unknown

Chief Ed Sheidlower

April 11, 2015

If you or anyone you know wants to volunteer for our agency, we are always looking for more medics and drivers. We provide all the training.   If you have recently retired and are looking for volunteer work to fill your time, please consider it.  Even, if you don’t want to become an EMT, we can also use drivers who are not medics.  Please e-mail us at HFMVABOD@yahoo.com to set up a date and time that you could come talk to us.

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