EMS workers face dangers on a daily basis - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

EMS workers face dangers on a daily basis

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August 19, 2005

Albany-- The shooting in Lumpkin brings to light the dangers that emergency workers face. The paramedic who was seriously wounded was racing to help other who were wounded and ended up stepping into the line of fire. Emergency Medical Service workers don't have guns or vests to protect themselves but many times they are on the forefront with law enforcement. Their goal is to provide safety and help and the Lumpkin shooting shows how risky their jobs are.

When EMS worker Renea Hayslip-Clay starts her ambulance, it's hard to determine what she'll face at her destination. "It's exciting and no day is the same," says Hayslip-Clay. She takes pride in her job. "I do, I love it," says Clay. After two years with the EMS, there's not much she hasn't faced. From standoffs and shootings to disgruntled citizens.

"Angry people sometimes," says Hayslip-Clay. Even though she's faced many emergency calls, the shooting of a paramedic in Lumpkin has given her a wake-up call. "It's frightening because you go on these calls and you never know what you're going into," says Hayslip-Clay.

Ironically, the very thing she loves about her job is the same thing that frightens her, not knowing what each day will bring. The shooting affirms what the workers practice each day, safety.

"What we emphasize all the time is before you go rushing into a situation you need to make sure the scene is secure," says Dougherty County EMS Director Bobby Tripp. Tripp says paramedics face harm on a daily basis so they have to be precautious. "It's a more violent world out there. We've had many people be assaulted," says Tripp.

"Sometimes you get tunnel vision because that's what you're there for to help someone and you're not thinking that that someone will injure or hurt you," says Hayslip-Clay. Renea is now keeping her eyes open. "We don't have any means of really protecting ourselves so that's why we're relying things like our eyes," says Hayslip-Clay.

She's using her head to think about the future. "That's my plan, to retire in EMS," says Hayslip-Clay. That plan begins with the safety of the citizens and the emergency workers that protect them. "Definitely because I plan on going home to my family," says Hayslip-Clay.

EMS Director Bobby Tripp says the shootings won't bring about any major changes but safety is being stressed for all workers. He says they have to make sure they assess all situations before they enter. If they feel it's unsafe, they should not enter the scene.

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