Wednesday, 28 September 2011 
Rescue squad, ambulance... what are they called?  While they will answer to either, technically, they are called EMS - Emergency Medical Service. The people who serve you are called Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics, but you only need to call 9-1-1, and they’ll be there.

In Lee County, the EMS service is Central Carolina Advanced Life Support. What distinguishes each unit as “advanced life support” is that each truck - which is the actual term for the vehicle they use - has a paramedic on board.

The paramedic is a responder who receives 1,200+ training hours beyond the basic EMT, has the ability to administer over 70 state-approved medications, and can insert a breathing tube if your airway is compromised. If your lung has collapsed, the paramedic can perform procedures to help you breathe again. When it takes only 4 to 7 minutes for brain cells to die when oxygen is cut off, it’s reassuring to know that the paramedics can provide you with advanced care by intubating you before you even get to the hospital.

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) have a critical role as well. They provide you with oxygen, splint bone fractures, administer some medications, and have vital first aid skills.  If you’ve been injured in a car accident, have fallen, or been subject to other trauma, the EMT will stabilize your spinal cord in hopes of preventing further injury, including paralysis.  EMTs and paramedics make a team of professionals that provide Lee County with fast, professional, and courteous medical care.

So how about response time? Central Carolina Advanced Life Support is centrally located in the county by the hospital so they can get to all parts of the community quickly.  In fact, the average response time is approximately eight minutes.

In addition to daily emergency calls, EMS is often seen as public events such as motocross races, athletic events, or large gatherings where they are on standby in case someone needs medical attention. 

When responding to an emergency, EMS vehicles are required to stop at all intersections that have stoplights or signs before proceeding for the safety of everyone on the road. You can help keep everyone safe by pulling to the far RIGHT when you see lights in your rear view mirror and hear the sirens.  Pulling to the left can cause an accident with the emergency vehicle that’s responding to a call or other vehicles trying to pull to the right.

While most of the situations the EMS crew responds to are serious, there have been a few lighter moments, such as when the crew responded to a call about a six-year-old having a seizure only to find out it was a dog.  While those calls may lighten the mood, non-emergency calls such as these could delay care for someone who truly has a critical situation.  The emphasis in EMS is placed upon the word “Emergency”.  If that true emergency occurs, call 911, and Central Carolina Advanced Life Support will be on their way.