They are the unsung heroes in communities throughout the U.S., working diligently, and often without pay, to help improve the lives of those around them.
These volunteers can spend countless hours helping others, often having to respond to emergency calls in the middle of the night or during holidays, with the only reward being that someone out there appreciates their service.
These men and women make up the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) that respond to distress calls throughout the nation, and in particular, Moffat County. Many of these EMS volunteers give freely of their time, and receive little or no pay for their efforts, which quite often are of the life-saving nature.
May 20 26 is National EMS Week, and a chance to honor and thank the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) who dedicate their time, and often risk their lives, in the hope of making the U.S. a safer place.
"It is really incredible the community support that we get from these volunteers," Maybell EMT Karen Burley said. "Most of the EMT's in Moffat County receive no compensation whatsoever, so for these people, most of whom work, to dedicate this time to helping others, I believe is really outstanding."
Memorial Hospital in Craig employs 3 full-time employees, as well as 16 part-time EMT's, who put in hours on nights and weekends, in addition to holding regular, full-time, 40-hour per week jobs.
"These are people who don't have to do this, but elect to anyway," said Charity Sjogren, Emergency Response Team (ERT) leader for the Memorial Hospital's EMS. "Not only do they put in an extraordinarily large amount of time being on call, they also participate in training sessions to keep up on everything that is new."
Sjorgen and two other members of the ERT work a regular, 40-hour week, with the volunteer EMT's carrying a pager to alert them to any emergency situations that might arise at night or on the weekends.
"It isn't very easy having to live your life attached to a pager, but these people do it every day," Sjorgren said. "Couple this with the fact that these people aren't compensated financially, which makes it even more amazing to me."
The Craig ERT Team receives about 60 calls a month, and an average of 750 800 every year. They cover one of the largest areas in the state, and have the counties only Advanced Life Support (ALS) service, which must meet ambulances from other towns that face a life-threatening situation.
"If there is an emergency out in Brown's Park that requires ALS, we leave to meet the first ambulance on the scene, and provide additional support."
Craig Memorial Hospital works with the Maybell EMT service, the Maybell Fire and Rescue, and Colowyo Mine Rescue Service, covering Northwest Colorado.
"It is really something that Colowyo is willing to help out with transporting people," Burley said. "They are taking a chance themselves, bringing their own people out to the roads to help. They have a mine that they are concerned with, but they are also looking out for the community at the same time."
This year, May 23 is designated as EMS For the Child Day, and in celebration of that, the ERT will be presenting programs at elementary schools throughout Craig. They will be giving talks on different safety measures, and some of the beneficial things that EMS can do for a community.
EMS volunteers also want to stress pediatric safety during the next week, primarily focusing on trauma, which is the major cause of death among children up to the age of 18.
"Right now accidents, homicides, and any event where children suffer trauma is leading the U.S. in deaths of people under the age of 18," Burley said. "If we could get people to begin buckling their children up, we could see a drastic reduction in the number of trauma cases that we have every year.
"Twenty to forty percent of these deaths could be avoided with a little education, and the use of child restraints," she said. "We have an outstanding group of people who participate in these programs, and I think that it would be great if the people that they are helping would recognize thier efforts."