Local healthcare workers came out to enjoy good food and good company at East Georgia Regional Medical Center’s annual EMS appreciation cookout on Wednesday.

“It’s nice to get a little recognition and some nice things done for us,” said John Pulte, a flight paramedic on Bulloch’s Air Evac flight team. When asked how many lives he thought he has saved in his career, it was hard to say.

EGRMC host lunch for medics Credit: Grice Connect

“We drop patients off, wave goodbye, wish them good luck and sometimes we don’t hear how they turn out,” said Pulte. “It’s a little different being outside the hospital.”

EMS had a busy morning on the day of the event, according to Karen Grabenstein, EGRMC Director of Clinical Outreach. EGRMC sees about 25 emergency patients a day and treats ailments from strokes to car accidents.

“I think healthcare in general is changed because of pandemic but I think for EMS, it has changed,” said Grabenstein. “EMS has learned to take care of sicker patients because of the volumes in the hospitals.”

With nurses, doctors and hospital beds occupied for COVID-19 many learned to care for their patients in the back of ambulances for longer times, she said.

In addition to Bulloch County EMS and Air Evac private EMS companies, including Central EMS and Signature EMS teams, were among those honored at the cookout for serving our area.

AirEvac provides Air Ambulance Service

Bulloch’s Air Evac team works in a 70-mile radius surrounding their station next to the Kiwanis Fairgrounds.

“It’s a little different with us, you know,” said Pulte. “We’re not just running in one community. We’re flying all over the state and South Carolina sometimes down to Florida. So we were gone a long time.

“I think it’s like the pinnacle of a career,” said Stacey Tapley, Air Evac Flight Nurse. “If you’ve ever been trauma or like emergency medicine stuff, it’s kind of like one of the top notches of what emergency people can do.”

Eden Hodges with AirEvac team Credit: Grice Connect

“There’s no in-between, doing busy work or anything,” said Pulte. “It’s either wide open the person’s crashing, we need to do something now or it’s just [making] sure the heart monitor and all the equipment is going. So we have in our little helicopter everything an emergency room has, everything an ambulance has and most of what an ICU room has. So we’ve got a lot of equipment, just fun-size, packed in a little tin can.”

EMS leading the way in healthcare

“[In the coming year] I think you’ll see EMS evolve,” said Grabenstein. “I don’t want to speak for any of the counties, but I think you’ll see services starting to combine and come together and offer more like the mobile integrated health or community paramedicine.”

EMS services, like most are not immunized to recruiting and retaining a talented workforce. In addition to a great work environment, competitive pay is a challenge as well.

“I’m hoping that [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] will start up reimbursement which means the county services can up there starting pay, so I think COVID will do that,” said Grabenstein.

Find a Way To Share Your Gratitude with EMS

We at Grice Connect see these phenomenally dedicated and talented emergency workers in action on a daily basis. We are impressed with their commitment, expertise and patience to manage such a wide array of emergency responses daily.

We encourage you to please take time this week and every week to find a way to thank each of our local EMS practitioners. They serve our communities in extraordinary ways, 24/7 to keep us all safe. It has been especially demanding on them this past year helping our community through COVID. They have all been asked to give so much more and again and again they have answered the call.

They are often the first to respond and the last to be recognized for their critical service.