In defense of a squad leader

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 22, 2003

Editor, the News-Herald:

In recent weeks a few individuals in the city of Suffolk have been voicing their opinions about certain members of the Bennett’s Creek Volunteer Rescue Squad. Only July 29, 2003, it was written in The Virginian-Pilot that, &uot;City officials should not put citizens at risk because of shaky volunteer rescue services.&uot;

I respond to this by saying that the &uot;shaky&uot; numbers on our roster in no way affect the quality of care given to the community. The remaining volunteers always have and always will give a hundred percent when on duty.

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As some people are not blessed with an EMS volunteer in their family or circle of friends, they do not realize nor understand the things we do or the type of person this job requires. We go through the exact same classes and training as paid personnel, but for some reason the public seems to be under the impression that we are not qualified.

We have chosen to spend hours upon hours sitting in classrooms getting the education we need so that we can be better prepared for a wide variety of situations that we may face on the streets. We lose countless hours of sleep studying just to get up the next morning to go to our &uot;paid&uot; jobs.

Year after year we pour our hearts and souls into becoming the very best EMS providers that we can be. We have asked for nothing in return; we do not get a paycheck; we do not get promotions and we do not even get respect.

After everything we have done and given up for the citizens of Suffolk, those same citizens are now turning their backs on us.

I would like to point out that many of the paid city providers started out as volunteers and have carried their love for humanity over to their new positions. In these new positions they still provide care with the same heart as when they were not paid and, though there are firefighters who do not mind performing both fire and rescue duties, there are some that do.

Would you prefer to have a person who is forced to get on the ambulance treat your terrified, injured child or someone who loves EMS enough to leave his own children to come and care for yours?

What if the worst happened and your child does not survive? Would you prefer the provider who merely apologizes for your loss and goes about his business?

Or would you prefer the one who cares enough to not only stay to comfort and pray with you but goes one step further and makes sure that other volunteers and their loved ones also do the same?

I would undoubtedly want the latter of these two cases for this provider has shown through his actions that when the medical side of a call is complete, the emotional side still remains. He not only treats his patient’s physical injuries, but their mental ones as well.

When it comes to preparing the squad for the future, he does not look down on the young who are just starting out. Instead he guides, advises, listens, and looks out for them as if they were his own. These are the characteristics of a true EMS volunteer. When unexpected situations arise, is this not the type of person you want to be there?

I am happy to tell you that such a man exists. He faithfully served the community for over 11 years. He has stopped providing his service because of unfounded opinions.

People who did not know him decided to speak up and say what was necessary to force his resignation.

The same city he selflessly gave thousands of hours to has now turned its back on him when he needed them the most. I am sincerely sorry for such people for they missed knowing a truly unique man. He did what he thought was right concerning EMS in the community and was persecuted for it. The man that I have just introduced to you is none other than former Chief of the Bennett’s Creek Volunteer Rescue Squad Sean Edmondson.

Sean did nothing wrong, he was merely the scapegoat for those who stand to gain personally from the demise of the squad. Think about it.

Melissa &uot;Creeker&uot; Parden