Local first responders recognized for EMS week

By DAVID J. HARDIN

Cove Leader-Press 

 

This week local EMS workers were treated to a barbecue lunch on the grounds of Metroplex Hospital in observance of EMS week. 

The three-day event was a coordinated effort between the Air-Evac Life-Team, the Metroplex ER, and Cardiovascular Lab personnel, who all served hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, pastries and soda. 

This year they decided to run the event over three days, so that they could get as many workers as possible, with most EMS workers running on a 24-hour shift.

Jeremy Pruitt, the membership manager with Air-Evac, said it’s important for the Air-Evac helicopter to be available.

“We can get from point A to point B in a matter of minutes, when it may take an ambulance 30 to 40 minutes to get out to rural areas. We can get a patient the hospital faster,” Pruitt said. “When it is a matter of life and limb, seconds count.”

Justin Bright has been the program director for the Air-Evac Life team for the past two-and-a-half years. Bright started flying in 2008, but left and came back.

“This is something that I believe in, and I have witnessed it saving lives, the helicopter itself saving lives,” Bright said. “It is just something I believe in and am passionate about, and I wanted to get back as soon as possible.”

According to Bright, the Air-Evac Life Team consists of four pilots, five nurses, five paramedics, one part-time nurse and one part-time paramedic.

“It doesn’t ever get easy, however, you know that you did your absolute best to save that person, in whatever situation you may have been left with, even if that person passes away. At the end of the day all you can do is know that it was out of your hands, and that you did all you could do to save that person,” Bright said of being part of a lifesaving team. 

Air-Evac sells membership subscriptions which pay for air ambulance transport, in the event that a member needs to be transported by helicopter to a medical care facility. Air-Evac is the largest independently owned air ambulance company in the country. 

Christina Secrist is a paramedic at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen and has been the hospital’s ER liaison for the past seven years, but has been with Metroplex for 16. 

“It is a great that we could hold this event over three days, to accommodate as many EMS workers as possible,” Secrist said. On Thursday, the team stopped off at the Copperas Cove, Killeen, and Harker Heights fire stations to drop off goody bags, she added.

Lee Ann Briley has been a paramedic for 14 years and was part of an Air-Evac team in Abilene before she came to the Air-Evac team at Metroplex. Briley has been with the team at Metroplex for four years.

“Generally we cover a 70-mile radius, but we can go outside of that if needed, like a mass casualty incident,” she said. “The best part of the job for me is getting to make a difference in somebody’s life, and to be there for them on the worst day of their life.”

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