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Rescue Squad 442, right


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Mobile Intensive
Care Unit
(MICU) Ambulance 2




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Steve Martin,
a fire chief?

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The American Fire Station (paperback)

The American Fire Station (hardcover)

EMS Week
is recognized
near the
last week of May

Mark Bostrom as EMT/Paramedic (1978-1985)

TIMES HAVEN'T CHANGED too much, have they? The Rescue Squad was often the first on the scene. The modified Ford pick-up truck with rear cabinets was a real workhorse, as shown in this early 1980's photograph. Rear compartments carried emergency cardiac drugs, intravenous fluids, bandages, a M.A.S.T. suit (Military Anti-Shock Trousers), Defibrillator/Electrocardiogram Monitor, and heavy rescue equipment, such as the Jaws of Life. EMS or the Emergency Medical System that began in the late 1960's-early 1970's has developed into an important part of medicine and modern living.

Photo Credit: Adam Brady

Below a paramedic crew from the Arlington Heights Fire Department takes a resident from home to one of the first larger-sized ambulances of the 1980's waiting at the curb. The extra room inside is a great benefit to crews that work on critical patients during transportation to the hospital.

Photo Credit: Adam Brady

Every good paramedic is made possible as a result of a great training program.

Northwest Community Hospital Graduating PARAMEDIC CLASS Spring 1981

I worked as an EMT and later an EMT/Paramedic from 1978 until 1985. The Emergency Medical System was and is today a fantastic system of doctors, nurses, firefighters, paramedics, and helicopter pilots. Helicopters were rarely used when I was a paramedic.

My most commonly asked question? "What was the worst call you ever saw?" Probably a one-car accident on the Northwest Tollway (I-90). A drunk driver (not wearing a seatbelt) hit the center concrete median with his sedan. The car flipped into the air, partially ejecting the driver from the driver window. The car landed on its roof with the driver's upper-body pinned between the roof of the car and the concrete of the tollway. A severe injury to the head was instantly fatal.

I also vividly remember May 25, 1979, when I was working as an Emergency Medical Technician at the Northwest Community Hospital Emergency Room. American Airlines Flight 191 lost an engine on takeoff, lifted for short distance and crashed in neighboring Elk Grove Township. The crash killed 271 on board and 2 people on the ground.  I was helping a heart attack patient out of his car at the Emergency Room driveway when I heard the bulletin on his car radio. We hurried the heart patient to the coronary care unit and cleared the emergency room for an expected rush of crash victims. The cafeteria was converted to a triage unit, a matrix of beds instead of dining tables. Stock medical supplies were brought out from storage, until we learned from live television news in the waiting room that there was not a single survivor.

My strongest memory throughout my paramedic career was how people from different departments and hospitals worked very well together. The job brought many different challenges with many different solutions, sometimes routine and sometimes creative. But while many other jobs do not have clearcut goals, the goals for the job of paramedic are very simple -- save lives and reduce suffering.

Oh and one more thing ... and probably the most important lesson I learned from being a paramedic: It is much easier to prevent an injury or illness than it is to fix it. And believe me, a lot of the calls to which we responded, were preventable.

A lot of studying, a lot of practical training and a lot of practical experience makes a great paramedic.

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Check the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) site for protocols, equipment list, etc. See also Palm Beach County Fire/Rescue and Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District for information on Rescue Work.
Emszone.com for a number of EMS books and Southwest EMS Education for Barbara Aehlert's website.

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