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Imperial County Emergency Medical Services are recognized during National EMS week

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) week is a time to thank paramedics, EMTs and the entire EMS workforce for their service and sacrifices - News 11's Vanessa Gongora reports

Editor's notes: A mistake was said in the video. The city of the report was done in Imperial, not El Centro.

IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Emergency Medical Services week is a national campaign to raise awareness of EMS week and to recognize the life-saving roles EMS practitioners play.

May 15-21, 2022 is the 47th annual National EMS week.

The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) says they are working with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) to ensure that the important contributions of EMS practitioners in safeguarding the health, safety and well-being of their communities are fully celebrated and recognized.

The theme for EMS Week 2022 is "Rising to the Challenge."

It's something they do everyday, putting determination and resilience to the test from responding to a sudden cardiac arrest to helping a sick child. They continue to rise to the challenge again and again.

The Imperial County Firefighters Association(ICFA) says over time, those working in EMS have faced new and unprecedented challenges such as a global pandemic, increased U.S. Border activity, supply shortages and loss of personnel for various reasons.

ICFA says they respond to medical incidents in areas that include various challenges such as desert sand dunes, traffic collisions, mountain side rescues, water related incidents and underdeveloped areas that have no orderly infrastructure.

In these incidents, Imperial County Firefighters say they respond to provide EMS for major traumas, multi-casualty incidents, heart attacks, cardiac and respiratory arrests, overdoses, strokes, and unfortunately even incidents that result in death.

One Imperial County Fire Captain and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Julio Segura, who has been with the department for ten years says it makes him happy to help people, but incidents with children are hard.

"I think those are the calls that are actually the hardest cause we don't really know what they're going through," says Segura.

IFCA says no matter where or when, whatever challenges Imperial County Firefighters face, they will always answer the call.

They said this could not be accomplished without the teamwork and efforts of all the other great individuals that work alongside Imperial County Firefighters to make up the EMS system.

Segura says Mercy Air and REACH Air Medical Services provided lunch and dropped off some gifts. He says he is thankful for this acknowledgment.

"It shouldn't only be this week, but I think the whole year. It should be a way of thanking everyone. Every time you see a firefighter, a police or anyone that's involved in EMS, just say thank you. It makes us happy," says Segura.

REACH Air Medical Services has been a huge asset in Imperial County.

According to Sergio Cardenas, program director for REACH Air Medical Services in Imperial County, REACH transported about 300 locals within 45 days at the beginning of the pandemic.

Le Lopez, a REACH flight paramedic, says this job is special because Imperial Valley is rural and higher health care needs aren't always available.

"So what makes this job special is that we can facilitate that need and take a patient from the local hospital here to a higher level of care whether it be San Diego or some other area that has higher care services," says Lopez.

Lopez was born and raised in Imperial Valley and that's why he says this job means so much more to be able to serve his own community.

He says this week is important because EMS doesn't always get the credit they deserve.

"When this week comes around, it's sort of a reminder that the things that we do don't always go unnoticed and that's an important thing," says Lopez.

Lopez said for EMS week this year, REACH's management put on a BBQ for his team and invited Imperial County Firefighters.

"Whether it be here, fire or the hospital, we all take care of each other in the best way we can," Lopez says.  

EMS week is to honor the sacrifice and dedication of everyone in Emergency Medical Services.

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Vanessa Gongora

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