Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Whitmer recognizes EMS workers, following in Biden's footsteps

May 24, 2021
A student receiving their vaccine at the Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion on April 15, 2021 in East Lansing.
A student receiving their vaccine at the Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion on April 15, 2021 in East Lansing. —
Photo by Jillian Felton | The State News

The past few months have had victories for everyone. With vaccines being distributed — some even right at MSUto the public, the trends in positive COVID-19 cases are on the decline. After a strenuous year as an emergency medical services, or EMS, worker, things may be starting to feel as though an end is near.

In appreciation of EMS providers’ hard work, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer followed President Joe Biden's lead and officially declared last week, May 16-May 22, as EMS Recognition Week in Michigan.

“EMS providers have gone above and beyond to adapt during the COVID-19 health care crisis, putting their own health and safety at risk to care for their communities," the proclamation said.

Whitmer also commended all EMS personnel for working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, giving access to quality emergency care for patients and continuing lifesaving skills all throughout the pandemic in the proclamation.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness, there are 28,820 EMS providers, 812 life support agencies and more than 3,867 licensed life support vehicles in Michigan alone, a press release said.

Human biology junior Gagan Mavi has had experience working in the past semester as a volunteer at the COVID-19 clinic area in Sparrow Hospital. With her roommates, Mavi aided Phase 1A and 1B vaccine receivers in the drive-thru at the hospital.

“(It was) definitely different, because obviously you can’t do that when there's no pandemic but it was a cool experience,” Mavi said.

Along with the volunteering that Mavi has done, EMS workers fill a wide range of roles. According to the press release, EMS fills critical health care gaps by providing important out-of-hospital care and follow-up care and access to telemedicine. Specifically toward the pandemic, EMS agencies have greatly reduced hospital stays by treating COVID-19 patients at home when possible.

Taking into consideration the volunteering that Mavi has done, she’s grateful that Whitmer has taken the time to label this past week as EMS Recognition Week. 

“First of all, I'm happy that there's some recognition going into the front line workers, like this whole year they've done a tremendous amount of work and risked their lives and loved ones for people to be safe and healthy,” Mavi said. “So I think they should deserve the recognition in the world.”

Neuroscience sophomore Meghana Gogineni is currently volunteering at Beaumont Hospital in Taylor, Michigan. At Beaumont, Gogineni has various tasks depending on the day. Some days when there are more patients, Gogineni will help move patients to different areas of the hospital or bring family to see patients pre-surgery. Other days when there are fewer patients that need help, Gogineni checks in others at the front by taking their temperatures and asking them the required COVID-19 precautionary questions.

Gogineni also admires Whitmer for the new proclamation and recognizes the importance of all EMS workers, no matter how big or little of a role.

“I appreciate that she (Whitmer) made the week to give recognition to people,” Gogineni said. “I have family who works in hospital settings and they’re like, ‘Oh we're understaffed or the hospital needs a lot of help right now.’ So when I found out that Beaumont was still allowing volunteers I was like, ‘Well let me just do that.’ I have time in my schedule … so it’s like not why not help out when I have the time.”

Whitmer designating this week as EMS Recognition Week is a gracious step toward awarding the grueling work that EMS personnel have been pushing through for the past year. Jack Fisher, president of the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services and executive director of Medic 1 Ambulance in Berrien County spoke on behalf of Michigan EMS’s reactions to the proclamation. 

“Michigan EMS is proud to be serving on the front lines of the pandemic, providing lifesaving health care and public safety services to Michigan residents,” Fisher said in the press release.

Gogineni hopes for and anticipates a return to normalcy.

“Honestly I hope that we get back a sense of normal,” Gogenini said. “It’s kind of been a completely different year. … At least get back to a midpoint where we can start interacting again without being as fearful as we were.”

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