Many people know them by a whirring siren, a blur of flashing lights or the thumping of a helicopter thousands of feet overhead. But, for those who have required Emergency Medical Services, the hard-working men and women who rush to the rescue are life-saving heroes.

It’s National EMS week, but a mere seven days designated to recognizing a vital part of Perry County’s community simply isn’t enough. In the realm of hometown heroes, the Perry County Memorial Hospital Ambulance Service employs top-notch staff.

Mary Chappuis serves as the Ambulance Manager at PCMH. According to Chappuis, the Service ran nearly 3,000 calls in 2016 alone — that’s roughly eight calls per day. Because the need for EMS is inherently unpredictable, the Perry County location is always fully staffed.

Chappuis said, “We have four ambulances, and two are staffed — that’s four people — 24 hours a day. The other ambulances are in case we need another crew.”

The PCMH Ambulance Service employs 24 staff members total: three full-time Emergency Medical Technicians, nine full-time paramedics, four part-time EMTs, and eight part-time paramedics.

An EMT gives a basic level of care, while a paramedic offers a higher level of care. For example, a paramedic has more specific training in order to quickly detect and treat cardiac and airway problems.

“We are the only ambulance service in our county,” Chappuis said. “I think that we are able to take care of the county in the best ways that we can.”

The Service runs on what is called a 48/96 work schedule. Essentially, paramedics and EMTs are on-call for two days, living, eating, and working together. While this might not sound appealing to the average 9-to-5 worker, Chappuis claims the contrary. “The crews absolutely love the schedule,” she said. “They like having those four days off for recuperation.”

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