First responders, local heroes, Emergency Medical Services professionals

Published 7:59 pm Monday, August 21, 2023

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics play a crucial role in the safety and health of the residents in their respective areas. These frontline first responders are dispatched to the scene of an incident where they offer quick-response medical assistance, work diligently to stabilize patients, and safely transport patients who need continued medical monitoring while en-route to hospitals or other medical facilities for further treatment. 

The goal of EMTs and paramedics alike is to provide rapid response in the event of a possible medical emergency. According to Luverne Rescue Squad EMT Sarah Smith, faster response times increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

“No later than seven minutes after we get a call, we’re loaded up and trucking it to the location,” Smith said. “We strive to have the fastest response time we possibly can, because we know it can mean life or death for the person on the other end of the call.”

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Luverne Rescue Squad EMT Adrian Hillburn said that while being a first responder comes with the reward of knowing he’s saved lives and contributed to the safety of those in his community, his career also often requires a great personal sacrifice. 

“The hardest part of this job, aside from the unfortunate case where we aren’t able to stabilize a patient, is being away from my family,” Hillburn said. “It’s difficult to feel like I’m absent from my family while I’m out helping someone else. We frequently miss holidays, birthdays, graduations, and other events so that we can be there for the people in our community when they need us. It is definitely hard on us, but it is 100% worth it at the end of the day and there is no career I would rather have.”

Hillburn emphasized that working in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was a calling he couldn’t deny, affirming that he shares that sentiment with many other EMS professionals who also felt their call to duty was ingrained into them.  

“It’s not just a job – it’s a passion,” Hillburn beamed. 

Hilburn followed both of his parents into EMS and served as a firefighter alongside his dad. Physical limitation hindered him from continuing as a fireman but knowing he wanted a career in emergency response, Hilburn found a way to be there for people in their time of need.

“It’s in my blood, and I know emergency response is what I was born to do,” Hilburn said. “It’s definitely not everyone’s dream job, but there’s a whole breed of us who wouldn’t know what to do if we weren’t in EMS. You’ll find that just like me, a lot of people in this field just ‘knew’ that this is where they belonged.”  

In addition to providing life-saving measures, EMS professionals also bring comfort to those present at the scene of an incident. When emotions are running high, EMTs are tasked with being a ‘light in the dark’ for not only their patients, but also the concerned family members, loved ones, or bystanders who witnessed the incident and called 911 for help.

Smith agreed that like Hillburn, her decision to become an EMT came from a profound desire to help those in need as she touched on the personal aspect of being an EMT.

“I’ve always been a person that just wanted to help others, and I knew this was how I would accomplish that goal,” Smith said. “I became an EMT because I wanted to be the best part of someone’s worst day.”

Smith said having to call for an ambulance can be really unsettling and scary for people, especially when they’re afraid their loved one is not going to pull through whatever emergency they’re facing. Part of her job is making sure patients are stable and getting the care they need, but another part is reassuring whoever the concerned party is that the emergency team is putting forth their absolute best efforts to help the patient through their crisis. 

“We never know what the situation will be when we arrive on scene and we risk putting ourselves in danger every time we answer a call, but the good we do day in and day out will always outweigh the potential bad that we could encounter,” Smith said.

In 2017 Congress designated Oct. 28 as National First Responders Day as a day of gratitude for those who answer the call when crisis arises, and as a call to action for United States citizens to show their appreciation for their local heroes. As this year’s holiday quickly approaches, residents are encouraged to remember and thank their local EMS professionals.