Lake County Honors Telecommunicators for First Response

Lake County Commissioner Welton Cadwell, who also serves as the chairman of the Lake Emergency Medical Services Board of Directors, spoke highly of Lake County’s public safety telecommunicators at Board of County Commissioners meeting on April 8, 2014. As he presented a PROCLAMATION approved by the Board of County Commissioners recognizing April 13-19, 2014 as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week in Lake County,  Commissioner Cadwell emphasized, “We have great public servants in the Lake EMS and Sheriff’s Office Communications Centers who are the first responders to emergency and non-emergency callers. In Lake County we have a great partnership between these two government agencies who respond to citizens calls.”

Lake County Board of County Commissioners meeting - April 8, 2014

Lake County Board of County Commissioners meeting – April 8, 2014

The Lake EMS and Sheriff’s Office Communications Centers have been co-located since the opening of the Lake County Emergency Communications and Operations Center in Tavares in April 2012.  The new 9-1-1 call center operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Lake EMS staff on hand to accept the proclamation included: Gerald “Jerry” L. Smith II, Executive Director; Kimberly Stephens, Chief Communications Officer; and Margaret Clayton, Lead Dispatcher. Sheriff’s Office staff were also present to receive the acknowledgement and included: Sheriff Gary Borders; Maureen Hatcher, Director of Communications; and Shay Aldrich, Lead Dispatcher.

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In the business of saving lives

EMT David Deland Jr., pulls the stretcher out of an ambulance during a call for cardiac problems in Leesburg, Fla. (Brett LeBlanc / Daily Commercial)

by Livi Stanford | Staff Writer for the Daily Commercial

Severely injured in a motorcycle accident, the young man became combative as he labored to breathe. His condition progressively got worse.

Ashley Lawrence, paramedic with Lake Emergency Medical Services, has keen memories of that patient she lost several years ago when she worked in Orange County. Sitting in the back of the ambulance, as the sirens wailed, she did everything she could to help him. But, she knew there was only so much she could do when she could no longer feel his pulse minutes before arriving at the hospital. “This was a young kid,” she said. “He had his whole life ahead of him. Death is hard, no matter what age.”

Paramedic Ashley Lawrence walks back to her ambulance after responding to a vehicle accident call in Lady Lake, Fla. (Brett LeBlanc / Daily Commercial)

There are days when Lawrence said she goes home and cries; and others when she can hold it together until something irrelevant is said, touching off a nerve. “You keep going over the call,” she said.”What could I have done better? Something will pop in my head. Maybe I could have done this.”

The fragility of life comes in full view on a regular basis for Lawrence and David Deland Jr., an Emergency Medical Technician with Lake EMS. Working 13- and 24-hour shifts is part of the norm for a paramedic and EMT. Sometimes, the Lake EMS crew can move from call to call but other times it is less chaotic.

EMS field workers said they have had to deal with unruly patients who throw up on them, and with physical attacks. They handle calls, from the most bizarre to the most traumatic. EMS field workers said they offer more than medical care at times, providing “psychological first aid” for those in need.

[Read the full article at Daily Commercial]