South Carolina Honors EMS Professionals on the Front Line of COVID-19
Thursday, May 21st, 2020
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and South Carolina EMS Association are proud to recognize our state’s emergency medical services (EMS) professionals during National EMS Week, which is May 17-20.
Today, DHEC announced a new initiative that allows South Carolina emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to test patients for COVID-19. Following a recent pilot in April with Richland County EMS Community Paramedics, DHEC developed a training program to provide paramedics with guidance on how to collect COVID-19 specimens. Due to the success of the pilot program, DHEC is rolling out the training to EMTs and paramedics across the state. As of today, the agency has trained more than 200 EMTs and paramedics in COVID-19 specimen collection.
“DHEC would like to thank EMS workers for the sacrifices they make every day, especially during COVID-19,” said Rob Wronski, DHEC Bureau Director of Healthcare Professionals. “South Carolina’s EMS workers have done an absolutely incredible job of assisting patients suffering from the virus while carefully preventing the spread of COVID-19.”
In addition to responding to medical emergency calls day and night, South Carolina’s EMS professionals are a critical component of the state’s COVID-19 response. They work collaboratively with DHEC and other partners across the state to support community testing programs, universal testing in nursing homes, drive-through testing sites, and the transportation of patients.
“For many years, the South Carolina EMS Association has made purposeful movements to build cohesion of ALL Emergency Medical Service Professionals in our great state,” said William Tatum, the President Elect of the South Carolina EMS Association. “No matter the service, patch, or name on your ambulance, we are ONE for EMS in South Carolina. This wouldn't have been possible without the strong relationship and mutual respect that is shared between DHEC and the members of the Association.”
South Carolina has 268 EMS agencies and 11,272 emergency personnel that includes first responders, EMTs, and paramedics. An EMS system involves a highly coordinated response for emergency medical care that relies on teamwork and camaraderie between multiple people and agencies.
“As COVID-19 emerged, the bonds established provided an information pathway and support system that continues to be beneficial to providers statewide. The future of EMS is bright in South Carolina because of the professionals that provide care to the sick and injured daily. Your hard work and dedication do not go unnoticed,” Tatum said.
During the COIVD-19 response, DHEC continues to work closely with the South Carolina EMS Association and EMS community partners by:
Creating 12 First Responder testing sites across all four regions of the state to allow for the rapid testing of SC First Responders suspected of having COVID-19
Assisting EMS workers with alternate transport destinations to allow EMTs from EMS Compact States to freely move in and out of South Carolina during support of interstate operations
Issuing protocols for conducting Point-of-Care Testing (POCT) for COVID-19 suspected patients that includes the use of tele-medicine
Expanding Scope of Practice to EMTs to collect specimens/support test sites across the state.
Approving the use of EMTs as temporary nurse aides at nursing homes.