44th National EMS Appreciation Week held to honor first responders

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - This week marks the 44th year for the National EMS Appreciation week, a time to thank and honor our EMTs and paramedics. National EMS Appreciation week started in 1974 with President Gerald Ford.

Before they run the streets and literally save lives, it all starts in a classroom for National EMS Academy.

"What we learn here too is that that little critical time that we have with our patients can make a huge difference in their long-term recovery," said Kylie Wahinehookae.

Wahinehookae is an aspiring EMT who admits she never truly understood how important first responders are until now. "Before, I used to be like, 'Oh, they're just ambulance drivers,' but no, being in this class for even a couple of weeks and experiencing other people who are EMTs, I know that they do a lot to get these people to the hospital safely," said Wahinehookae.

That's where Sam Mukherjee comes in. He's a recent medical school graduate and an Acadian Ambulance paramedic.

"I think anybody that gets into medicine does it because it's a phenomenal experience and feeling because you're really trying to help a person at their greatest time of need," said Mukherjee.

WAFB tagged along with Mukherjee to get a glimpse into his daily life. The first call was for a patient experiencing shortness of breath, but getting there sure can be difficult. By the way, if you see an emergency vehicle behind you, do not come to a complete stop, just get in the right lane, but keep driving.

The victim in this case was transported to a local hospital.

For some of the most serious cases, AirMed is called in. The helicopters are also used if it's a long way to a hospital and will take too long to get to a there on the road.

With Mukherjee, we were off to another call. "It's a traffic accident that the police department requested to go evaluate a child," said Mukherjee.

It was a crash on Juban Road. Airbags were deployed airbags in both cars involved. Fortunately, everyone walked away from the wreck, including a 5-year-old boy.

"I really thank them for everything they do, because without them, we would still be stuck here on the side of the road," said Courtney Odom, who was involved in the wreck.

Even though National EMS Appreciation week comes to an end Saturday, what paramedics and EMTs do every single day across the country never stops.

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