Lt. Kyle Rideout, with Rescue Inc., in Brattleboro, Vt., goes over supplies in one of the ambulances on Monday, April 11, 2022.

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In the United States, Emergency Medical Services really began in 1966 through a groundbreaking report on the need for an organized medical system — outside the hospital — to reduce the number of fatalities on U.S. highways. Since that time, EMS has developed into a complex, highly organized, and vital segment of the medical system. 1966 was also the year that Rescue Inc. began providing services in the Brattleboro area. In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS practitioners and their impact in our nation’s communities. EMS Week is presented by the American College of Emergency Physicians and in partnership with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

The theme of this year’s EMS Week (May 15-21) is Rising to the Challenge, and I’m very proud that Rescue Inc. has been rising to the challenge for 56 years — and will continue to do so into the future. To understand what EMS service looks like, here’s a snapshot of what we at Rescue Inc. do. Our 86 employees work every day — and in all conditions — to provide unparalleled medical care and crucial emergency transportation services within our region as we respond to over 5,000 calls each year for service across 15 communities in Vermont and New Hampshire. Beyond our emergency calls, we also offer Critical Care Transport for patients who must transfer to higher-level facilities throughout New England. We also continue to innovate; Rescue Inc. was one of the first agencies in New England to provide point of care ultrasound (POCUS) right at the scene of an emergency to identify life-threatening illnesses and injuries. We’re even there for people injured in hard to reach places such as New England’s extensive backcountry with our Southern Vermont Technical Rescue Team, which provides search and rescue as well as other specialized rescue services. We also look beyond our communities by routinely providing mutual aid services to various communities including Keene, N.H., the Deerfield Valley, and Franklin County in Massachusetts.

During the COVID pandemic, the state of Vermont asked Rescue Inc. to build and launch a program providing mobile COVID vaccination and testing services across the state. Within a couple of weeks, we mobilized a staff of over 40 people, as well as vehicles and equipment, to begin providing services. As of today, we have given over 35,000 vaccinations and traveled over 265,000 miles. When Vermont was recognized as being the first state in the nation to reach both 80 percent and then 90 percent vaccination rates, Rescue Inc. played a significant role in that achievement. In 2022, we were asked to start providing mobile monoclonal antibody treatments. We continue to have teams on the road every week providing a variety of services to support the COVID response.

So please join me in recognizing all the EMS providers in our community. This includes firefighters, law enforcement officers, fish and wildlife officers, nurses and physicians, hospital staff, and all of those that we work with daily to support all of you. In all we do, Rescue Inc. will continue to Rise to the Challenge.

Drew Hazleton, NRP, serves as chief of Rescue Inc. in Brattleboro.