This is the first blog I have ever written. What prompted this stream of thought is the culmination of a year of hard work. I am the medical director of Prisma Health MedTrans and AirMed Regional, the helicopter and fixed-wing EMS service in Greenville. I am proud to say that we were just named Small System of the Year by the South Carolina EMS Association, and I, humbly, was named Medical Director of the Year. I am honored that we received this award. Simply put, a leader is only as good as the team they are on, and this team is amazing. This award got me thinking of some of the amazing things EMS does for us daily, both in the air and on the ground. It also reminded me of some of the great cases, saves and stories that come from first responders.
I have learned so much this past year. I learned that USC School of Medicine Greenville students are graduating with their basic EMT certification, and they experience EMS first-hand by riding along with first responders. I met the most amazing group of firefighters, who were all getting their EMT certification along with me, this past year. I learned that practicing medicine on the front lines with a bag, basic supplies and a truck is far different than being in an emergency room. Oxygen doesn’t simply come from the wall. An intubation sometimes has to be done in the back of a truck and on the side of the road, and minutes/seconds count more than you think.
Most EMS providers work long hours for a week at a time and dine frequently at the local QT or Spinx. They are our eyes and ears. They have to think fast and are the first face of help our patients see. This is all a labor of love since they are usually far underpaid for their services. This year I saw some amazing feats: a surgical airway done in the field, a man get a blood transfusion on the side of the road that ultimately saved his life, and a woman in cardiac arrest go home to her family thanks to the quick response of our first responders.
EMS is in an incredible place right now in Greenville, given its access to the USC School of Medicine Greenville, simulation center, and top-notch education and development programs. The emergency medicine residency program starting at Prisma Health this summer has attracted some of the best and brightest educators to our institution, so learning opportunities will only continue to grow.
As I think about the year to come, I look forward to developing closer relationships with our EMS providers. Patient care starts in the field and continues at the hospital. The service these men and women provide are invaluable and a tremendous asset. I can only hope to strengthen their role on the care team, as they play an important part in delivering high quality care.
Sarah Fabiano, MD, is an emergency medicine physician with Prisma Health and medical director of Prisma Health MedTrans and AirMed Regional.