Neighbors helping neighbors: One of the great things about living in rural communities is folks’ readiness to jump up and assist those in need. That compassion and concern is exemplified in our emergency medical technicians – EMTs – who are being recognized as part of National EMS Week, May 19-25.

In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS (emergency medical services) practitioners and the important work they do in our nation's communities, providing the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's front line. 

And, speaking for Idaho County, what a front line that is: hundreds of miles of highways, city streets, gravel roads and goat paths traversed 24-7, in summer’s heat and winter’s icy chill, up mountains and down embankments to reach victims and get them stabilized for transport to the hospital. Car crashes, industrial accidents, a domestic incident, a rodeo star bucked onto his head, and medical standby at high school football games: EMTs here tackle this and lots more.

They volunteer to do all this; to take time out of their days and nights, sacrificing a weekend or a night’s sleep, a few hours from their job, to make sure their neighbors can get the critical first-responder medical care they need when in crisis. Who pays for their training, certification and continued recertification? Yep, they do.

This week is a great reminder to think of what our local EMTs offer to improve the safety and livability of Idaho County. Those local agencies are Syringa Hospital Ambulance, St. Mary’s Hospital Ambulance, Elk City Ambulance, Riggins Ambulance, Kooskia Ambulance and Kamiah Ambulance; and also, the Quick Response Units (QRUs): White Bird, Clearwater, Glenwood-Caribel, Lowell, Powell and Tahoe.

If you know one of these volunteer EMTs, thank them this week for their service. Let’s also have on our radar to help these agencies to continue to thrive by keeping them in mind for our regular donations for equipment and training, supporting our coworkers and employees for the time they need to take off to do this work, and, as well, in considering becoming an EMT to increase the labor pool of this overworked group of volunteers.

To our EMTs: Thanks for having all our backs and for the great job you do for our communities and the public overall.

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