Pender EMS & Fire, Inc. celebrates National EMS Week

National EMS Week is an annual campaign that serves to honor professionals who provide emergency medical services in communities across the country.
Pender County EMS & Fire (Photo: WWAY)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — To honor their emergency response professionals Pender EMS & Fire, Inc. celebrates National EMS Week through Sunday, May 22.

“As we celebrate with our staff, we want to take a moment to thank all our crews and recognize them for all that they do,” said Pender EMS Division Chief Stacey Wright.

Established in 1974, National EMS Week is an annual campaign that serves to honor professionals who provide emergency medical services in communities across the country.

This year’s theme is “Rising to the Challenge” – a fitting sentiment for first responders nationwide.

The EMS industry has encountered a multitude of hardships during recent years.

“Pender EMS & Fire, Inc. has experienced our fair share of these challenges,” said Wright. “The private non-profit agency is a combination department that is contracted with Pender County to provide both emergency medical and fire protection services. In 2013, a merger between Pender EMS & Rescue, Sloop Point VFD, Hampstead VFD, and Long Creek Grady VFD created Pender EMS & Fire, Inc.”

The continuous growth of Pender County posed a need to staff the three volunteer stations with paid personnel 24/7.

Since the merger, Pender EMS & Fire, Inc. has built and staffed three additional stations.

Additionally, Pender staffs Union Rescue Squad, Maple Hill VFD and Penderlea VFD with paid personnel.

The steady increase in call volume and decline in volunteers over the years has posed these needs to meet the demands of the growing service area.

Over the last several decades, the volunteer EMS & Fire population has dwindled across the nation posing the need for paid personnel.

“I started out as a volunteer EMT 16 years ago,” said Battalion Chief of Procurement April Monroe, “But as the cost of living continued to go up, I could not afford to keep volunteering. It was hard to give it up, but I had to work for a living and did not have time to dedicate to the rescue squad anymore. A lot of others fell into that same situation.”

The population growth in Pender County has also put a strain on EMS as they try to keep up with the increase in call volume.

Pender EMS & Fire, Inc. has responded to over 10,000 calls this fiscal year and projections suggest that the total number of calls for the year will surpass last year’s total.

When you factor in tourist season at the beach, longer transport times due to traffic, and delays at the hospital, there are days when crews are running nonstop for 24-hour shifts.

This poses another challenge. Burnout.

The Pandemic took a heavy toll on healthcare workers. The effects have caused strain and exhaustion within emergency services as workers struggle to keep up service to communities in a time of constant stress.

Pender EMS and Fire Inc. provides 8 EMS units, covers 6 Pender Fire districts, provides paid staff for two Volunteer Fire Stations, Rescue, and multiple special operations that are available 24 hours a day.

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