By Senior Airman Teresa J.C. Aber (633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs)May 29, 2014
Sirens blare as a team of paramedics rush to a man who's lying on the ground. They take his vitals and begin administering CPR as others nearby watch in terror. The life-savers ignore the crowd of onlookers and continue, only paying attention to the man in their care. The only thing that matters in that moment is saving a stranger's life.
McDonald Army Health Center paramedics respond to all 911 calls at Fort Eustis, Virginia, regardless of the individual's military status. On average, the team answers 67 calls each month, including transfers to and from the medical facilities in the surrounding community.
"We don't have an emergency room at Fort Eustis, so it's important to get to the patient as quickly as possible and take them to a nearby facility," said Dawn Smith, MCAHC paramedic intermediate. "Depending on how critical the injury is, we take most patients to Mary Immaculate Hospital or Riverside Regional Medical Center because they are the closest."
The team of paramedics' experience ranges between 17 to 50 years, but they know they can't do it all alone. They encourage Fort Eustis community members to take first aid and CPR classes if they have the opportunity because they can help sustain life until the paramedics arrive.
"Even when everything is done correctly, you've only got a short window to save a life," said Raphael Ramos, MCAHC ambulance section supervisor. "[Performing] CPR will keep blood flowing to the heart, brain and throughout the body, sustaining life until an AED, or other advanced medical care is available."
While a call for a heart attack may not be an everyday occurrence, the MCAHC paramedic team remains ready to answer any call.