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Training and Education Command

United States Marine Corps
EMS week raises PIFD awareness

By Lance Cpl. Justin J. Shemanski | | May 28, 2004

MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- Paramedics and emergency medical technicians aboard the Depot quickly gathered their gear, piled into their trucks and rushed down the road away from the firehouse, but it was not an emergency or even a drill. They were celebrating Parris Island Fire Department's EMS Week May 16-22.

The PIFD set aside an entire week to visit various places aboard the Depot and the surrounding area to educate service members and their families on what their purpose is and what they do. They also focused on the children, setting up ambulance tours and holding equipment demonstrations throughout this special week.

"Our main goal is EMS awareness," said Jay Carter, a firefighter and paramedic with the PIFD. "We want to let people know who we are, what we do, why we're here and take this opportunity to educate them. We've been to the CDC and in town, trying to get exposure."

Carter also noted that although they do something every year to focus on the Depot's EMS team, this was the first year they have set up an event this big.

"We've been planning for around two months for this week," said Doug Peake, PIFD firefighter/ paramedic. "We had to wait to see what this year's theme was going to be, which is 'Responding for Life,' and, once we got that, we tailored our program around what we were going to do and where we were going to go. We worked with Beaufort County EMS and did a day out in town as a joint venture to educate the public."

The PIFD considered the first-year event a success. There was no shortage of curious people who wandered up to the tables to check things out and get free blood pressure readings or complimentary finger print kits for their children.

"It's really great that they're here all week," said Doris Martinez, wife of 1st Lt. Isaiah Martinez. "It's nice for them to be here for the kids to see them checking people's blood pressure, doing what they can to help them."

The paramedics and EMTs aboard Parris Island have been helping people since they began providing Advanced Life Support to the Depot in June 1993. Parris Island was the first base in the Marine Corps to have a paramedic program, starting out with four paramedics. In 1998, two more paramedics were brought on board with the addition of the department's second ambulance. The program has been the model for many other Marine installations that have started programs of their own.

"Just don't forget those that are out there, who are on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to make sure everyone is safe," said Peake.  "They're still out there working, ready to make the call, when everybody else is at home asleep."

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