East Texas first responders discuss challenges in field

National EMS week, a time to thank the entire EMS workforce for their service and sacrifices
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 9:12 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WHITEHOUSE, Texas (KLTV) - This week marks the 49th annual National EMS Week.

It’s a week to honor EMS practitioners and the important work they do in our communities. EMS responders are normally the first helping hands on the scene in any emergency. Being the first one to arrive on the scene comes with some challenges, first responders have the essential skills to help in life-threatening situations for them every second counts, to provide critical care.

Cory Clanton knows this all too well from first-hand experience, he has been in the field for more than three decades. Clanton worked in the Longview Fire Department as a paramedic, retired, and came back. Now, he is the Division Chief of Training and Emergency Medical Service in Smith County. Being in the field himself, he said it can be difficult keeping first responders on the job because of what they’re exposed to every day.

“It’s difficult in this dang age, to see the number of things people do and stay in this business. So we intervene, offer services and that’s proven to be much more successful. To be sure there’s no stigma associated with the difficulties that come with the job,” said Clanton.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 30 percent of first responders develop mental health conditions, like depression and PTSD.

“I had an old captain that told me that each of those events is another piece of gravel in a backpack that we wear for years and you finally get to the point that you can’t carry it anymore,” Clanton said. “Our ideology now is to be sure we are emptying that backpack pretty frequently.”

For Clanton, he agrees this field comes with challenges but there’s one moment in his career that always reminds him this was the job for him.

“We arrive there soon as the paramedics on the ambulance to take care of the gentleman, we resuscitated him,” said Clanton. “We got a pulse back and I received a Christmas card from him for several years and it just confirmed to me that it was what I was called to do. "

He was called for a cardiac arrest and the American Heart Association said more than 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of the hospital each year. Many of those patients have better outcomes thanks to the life-saving care of EMS.

“It’s very comforting to know there are people there that are prepared to come in moment’s notice and do whatever is necessary,” said Clanton.

In EMS National Week, each day has its own theme from mental health to recognizing local first responders.

Danielle Groves, Operational Supervisor at UT Health EMS, says EMTs and paramedics are often the first contact on the road to recovering from an emergency.

“A lot of time your EMT and paramedics don’t get the recognition that they deserve and that they need,” said Danielle Groves a operational supervisor at UT Health. “We are the first ones that walk into that patient’s environment as well and provide that first in that care that they need.”

The theme for this year’s national week is Where Emergency Care Begins.