First Responders Update

By Kelly Gordon -
President, First Responders

We are a volunteer organization made up of 17 dedicated and giving folks. We run EMS calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, unless we are evacuated from the island due to a potential hurricane. Our pagers go off A LOT!

I want to address an issue that we have more often than we’d like, and I think if I explain how we operate, it might stop someone from being so critical of how we operate our organization. I decided to speak on this because it must stop.

When you call dispatch at 912-355-6688 with a medical emergency, they immediately page the on-island Paramedic, the Skidaway Island First Responders, and the off-island ambulance. I repeat, WE ALL GET PAGED SIMULTANEOUSLY. The whole idea of having a group like ours is to offer EMS services that can respond immediately.

There are days that my pager goes off and the call might come from a street that is one block from mine. Clearly, I’m going to get there before the paramedic and the off-island ambulance. Many times when I arrive, the patient or caller will abruptly stop me in my tracks and say, “We called for an ambulance. We don’t need you.”

Oftentimes, we will get a call for a traumatic injury, which can be someone injuring themselves with a saw, a car accident, someone falling off a roof, or even someone who has broken a leg. Regardless of the injury, a traumatic injury call most often requires several people. If the person greeting us says, “There are plenty of people here; we don’t need you,” I can assure you, we will walk right by you and go render aid to the patient.

If you have ever worked a medical emergency and know how many moving parts there are, you might not ever say any of the above. For the novice callers, please refrain from snapping at us, being rude or unkind when we show up to help, and trying to tell us how to do our job. I can assure you, we have honed our skills and know what we are doing.

Admittedly, it always astounds me when anyone is rude to my team or the paid personnel on the fire truck and ambulance. We are there to help because YOU CALLED US! As an aside, “Why is there a fire truck?” seems to be a popular question. The answer is simple. The on-island paramedic is also a firefighter and that is his/her mode of transportation. The fire truck is equipped just like an ambulance, yet we don’t transport patients.

The popular “We only wanted an ambulance” comment is getting old. If you ONLY want an ambulance, you might be waiting up to 20 minutes. Emergency Medical Services personnel are working tirelessly, and to be honest, they’re doing the best they can with the resources they have. It might take them some time to get out to the island because they’re coming from downtown, or they could simply be stuck at one of the hospitals, which are all on overflow right now. Our team is here to get there quickly so that you’re not waiting too long while the ambulance is en route.

The state of Georgia currently is struggling to find people to work on ambulances. The paid personnel from Chatham Emergency Services who staff the ambulances run themselves ragged to get patients cared for and transported. Having the Skidaway Island First Responders and the on-island paramedic not only helps this community, but also the people on the ambulances. We work as a TEAM, and I would hope everyone who uses these services will be more patient and respectful to all of us.

We ask that you treat all of us better. Our main goal is to render aid and safely get you to the hospital of your choice. If you are constantly questioning all of us on the “why” and the “how” when we arrive, it hinders us from doing our job. Make sure you thank the paid personnel when they are in your home or place of incident. They have earned your respect and most certainly deserve it. Moreover, they’re really struggling right now due to the influx of calls.

That leads me to an issue I’m cautiously optimistic will soon be addressed. If you call EMS at 4 a.m. in the morning and say you’ve not felt well for a few days and then shortly follow with, “But I don’t want to go to the hospital”, we will question why you called us. Emergency Medical Services are for emergencies. When the Paramedic and off-island ambulance is at your home, they’ve been taken away from someone who really needs them. EMS abuse is a real thing, and it needs to be nipped in the bud.

If you have a true emergency, we strongly urge you to call us. Please know, if you just need your blood pressure checked or help getting from a chair to a bed, home healthcare is most probably who you need to hire. I’ve written before about this topic, and it seems to be getting worse. If our on-island paramedic is at your house dealing with something non-emergent and a real emergency comes up, we’ve got no one to send to them, and they’ll have to wait for the off-island ambulance crew.

Our goal is to serve this community to the best of our ability. That said, we could not do this without the PAID personnel from Chatham Emergency Services, which includes the people on the fire truck and the ambulance. It is truly a great balance of both volunteer and paid people who care so much about each of you.

In closing, the Skidaway Island First Responders acknowledges the passing of Kim Simmons, who was the wife of our beloved and amazing on-island Paramedic, Dale Simmons. He has served this community for more than 10 years, and we are all so sad and sorry for his great loss. They were high school sweethearts and were married for 44 years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dale and his family.

 Thank you for your support of the Skidaway Island First Responders and all the thank you notes and donations we receive regularly. It doesn’t go unnoticed, and it is so appreciated. Stay safe and be well.

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

Visit to read the original article.