TAYLOR COUNTY—The sun was shining, music was playing, the grill was fired up and the sound of friendly conversation was filling the air at the Taylor County Emergency Medical Squad’s (TCEMS) open house on Saturday.
TCEMS Lieutenant Michelle Mayle revealed that the open house was designed as a way to meet with community members and to acclimate children to the faces of the department.
“We really wanted the children in the community to be able to see our faces tied with a positive event, that way when we have to respond to a call where a child might be more stressed, they would see us and feel a little more comfortable,” she expressed.
Guests were greeted by none other than McGruff the Crime Dog, as they were welcomed to the facility, which has undergone some transformations recently.
According to Mayle, the building was in need of some repairs because of some safety issues.
“Rather than scrap the current building, we thought it would be more financially smart to make the necessary changes to our current location,” shared Mayle. “Now, there’s a more inviting atmosphere for those that stop by. We wanted our space to be more welcoming to community members and guests.”
Instead of using costly construction crews, Mayle said that the squad chose to utilize a local program, providing a win-win situation.
“We utilized the Taylor County Community Corrections program to make the upgrades to the facility,” she shared. “Not only did it help us keep costs down, because we are using tax payer dollars and want to make sure we are being responsible with them, but it also helped provide something for individuals on the program with something to do, and maybe even helped them learn new skills.”
Upgrades to the building included the addition of a new office space for the secretarial staff, an upgraded office space for Christopher Miller, Director of the TCEMS, new drywall in the main area of the building and new bunk rooms for crew members.
“Before the bunk rooms were coed, but we wanted everyone to feel more comfortable, so now there’s a bunk room for females and one for males,” explained Mayle.
She went on to report that the rooms will have enough space to allow six crew members to stay overnight.
“That’s enough workers to run three trucks. So now, if there’s a major event going on, we will have the space to house crew members as needed,” she said.
With the recent addition of their new ambulance, the squad now has four trucks in their fleet rotation, which Mayle believes will be a great help to the community.
“Usually, we have one truck that is down for regular maintenance, so with the addition of the new ambulance, we should always have three trucks up and running and ready to go in the event of an emergency.” Mayle commented.
During the event, community members were able to tour not only the TCEMS’s new ambulance, but one that the Flemington Emergency Squad brought over for the event. Children who toured the vehicles were invited to sound the sirens and blare the horns.
Inside, staffers welcomed community members to take part in the squad’s miniature health fair, where they were providing baseline blood pressure and blood glucose readings. Individuals were encouraged to fill out a sheet that would help squad members in the event of an emergency involving the individual.
“They fill out vital information about their medical history, provide a list of their medications and any allergies they have,” Mayle disclosed. “The sheet provides their basic information, as well as the readings we took today, to give us a baseline for what might be normal for them.”
Mayle further shared that the sheets would be useful in a situation where the individual might be unresponsive.
“It was a great way for our members to interact with the community that they serve,” she commented.
Mayle reported that although some of their staffers are full-time, working three 12-hour shifts throughout the week, the department has a lot of volunteers that come to work.
“Some of those people have full-time jobs of their own, but they want to give back to their community, so they come and work a couple shifts a week, or they will help over a weekend or two a month,” she said. “This is where they got their start with EMS, and they come ‘home’ because it’s someplace special to them.”
Lieutenant Gavin Watkins shared that the members at the TCEMS are more than just co-workers, they are more like family.
“We are lucky because we have a very tight knit family situation here,” he noted. “We are all very close to one another, and I think that helps when we are responding to calls. We have each other’s backs and that helps us to better serve the community.”