For the last 35 years, the Effingham County Emergency Medical Service has responded to calls for help day and night.
The agency is celebrating its 35 years of service this month, and it has grown from a small crew to a department of nearly 40. Over the years, the EMS also has gotten increasingly busy.
EMS director Wanda McDuffie said the department ran 40 calls a month back in 1986. Now, the average call load a month is from 425-450.
“It’s a big difference from 1986 to where we are today,” she said.
The EMS has 25 full-time employees and 14 part-time employees. There are four 24-hour crews, and they work 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty. Many of the EMTs and paramedics have a ton of experience, McDuffie said.
“I tease everybody we have the geriatric service,” she said. “Our average age is 53 now. And this is a young man’s job. Most of us have been doing this for 25 years or more. They bring a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge to the table, and that means a lot to the Effingham.”
During October, which is also breast cancer awareness month, the EMS personnel have donned pink T-shirts to wear — even the guys. They asked McDuffie if they could wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness and she replied that if everybody went along with the idea and they bought the shirts, then they could do it.
“We’ve gotten a lot of compliments,” she said. “The guys said, ‘I can’t believe you’re making us wear pink.’ They’ve taken a lot of ribbing for it, but they have really stepped up.”
The EMS personnel have embraced the breast cancer fight. One of the part-time employees is a breast cancer survivor.
“Just about every employee has had somebody in their family affected by breast cancer, so it’s near and dear to everybody’s heart,” McDuffie said. “Most of employees have had someone who has been affected by breast cancer.”
McDuffie said the EMS crews are the reason why the county has a good department.
“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have the quality of service we have,” she said.