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29 earn EMT Certifications

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) — recently returned to the LBJ Medical Center — kicked off their EMS week (May 20-26, 2012) with a graduation ceremony wherein 29 men and women received certification as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT).

The ceremony was held for the 11th Emergency Medical Technician Academy, at the CCCAS church in Faga’alu under the leadership of Reverend Lalomauga Pa’au F.S.

It began with Governor Togiola Tulafono’s proclamation, read by EMS Captain Kathy McKenzie, with an invocation by the graduates, and a sermon delivered by Reverend Lalomauga.

The proclamation stated that EMS is a vital public service and members of the emergency medical service teams are ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Access to quality emergency care dramatically improves the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury, the proclamation says.

The EMS unit consists of physicians, nurses, medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, educators and administrators who serve as a team and it is appropriate to recognize the value and the accomplishments of emergency medical services providers by designating EMS week, said the Governor.

EMS Chief Galumalemana Fuapopo Avegalio said the graduates started their training when EMS was under the Department of Public Safety’s umbrella and now the training is complete while they are under the hospital’s authority.

He said that after extensive training, the program took them from first responders to emergency dispatchers to emergency medical technicians.

“The program is unique not only with the certification that they’ll be presented today (Sunday), but they are also being given the opportunity of hands — on experience and that’s why this program was extended,” said Galumalemana.

“It’s one thing to get certified and then they go on to get the experience, he said, “But the uniqueness of this program is to give them the experience while they are training and when they do get certified, and receive their certification, they are ready to work”.

He said the experience the graduates had over the last year is what will drive them forward.

The EMS Chief said this academy was not possible without the supportive funding from various government agencies such as the Governor’s office, Department of Commerce, Criminal Justice Planning Agency, ARRA, the Procurement office and the EMS children’s program.

He said the question that has been asked on several occasions is — “Do I have to be a volunteer to join the EMS?”

Galumalemana explained that all you must have is the interest and the commitment to want to help people, if you want to volunteer for EMS.

(It should be noted that many do start out as volunteers, and stay on as paid employees)

He also acknowledged that family support is very important to those who work for EMS.

“EMS work long hours and long days and they are expected to work during disasters, hurricanes... they are expected to be deployed in a moment’s notice to anywhere”.

Galumalemana said during this academy some of the graduates flew to Manu’a to medivac emergency medical patients. He added that members of this academy will also be able to sit the National Registry and once they successfully pass, they will undergo further training to become paramedics.

Acknowledging the assistance EMS received from the hospital, Galumalemana said, “Now that we’re back, I am pleased with the commitment and the support from LBJ and I am very grateful that we are getting the supplies that we need to provide service to the community.”

The instructors for the 11th EMS Academy were Assistant EMS Chief for Certification Jonathan Mageo and EMS Assistant Chief Fa’aita Joseph Fa’aita.

The LBJ CEO Mike Gerstenberger also gave remarks at the ceremony, where he first thanked the EMS for the services they provide every day to everyone who needs their assistance.

He welcomed aboard the new members of the EMS team and said it’s an internal goal of the continuum of care the medical center is trying to build in the territory.

“Lots of people, when they think about medical system, they only think about the hospital, but it’s only one part of the chain;  we really need to broaden what we think of whenthink about the medical system.

It needs to start with education and prevention, he noted.

Speaking directly of EMS, Gerstenberger said “we have to work together to figure out ways to respond more quickly and respond more effectively. We need to keep improving the training and establish protocols, we need to establish communication real time with the Emergency Room physician ...because that’s what makes the difference.

The CEO also touched upon non-communicable diseases. “We have a very high incidence of non-communicable diseases, and those kinds of patients are going to take a very long time and a lot of smart people to fix. We are going to be announcing a lot of new initiatives at LBJ dealing with that very soon and you’ll have an important role in that” he told the graduates.

He also told them that their eyes and ears are critical to the outcome for the patients. “You’re the only member of the healthcare team that sees the patient in their homes — the only member that is present at the accident site — so you can explain to the other medical officers what you have observed of the situation.”

“We need to ensure that we have a better understanding, whether this is a good household that has great hygiene and people who understand about caring so that we can release that patient a little sooner — or this is a household where the hygiene isn’t so good and the level of education isn’t so high?”

“Maybe that patient meets the criteria to be discharged, but maybe that patient can be kept for another day or two … those are things you can do,” he told the graduates.

Following the CEO’s remarks, Lt. Governor Faoa Aitofele Sunia, who was also present, addressed the gathering in the Samoan language, and congratulated the graduates.

The graduates of the 11th Academy are: Tyrell Eugene Jesus Ah-Kuoi, Tautala Amituana’i, Mareko Atonio, Erupi Emmanuel Autele, John Fereti, Tumua’i Nofo Fisher, Henry Tyrone Hudson II, Souvernier Salanoa Ili, Kelemete Peni Kaio, Iopu Kaleopa, Vaimoe Leaoa, Madonna Anatahsa Lemana, Johnathan Raymond Letuli,  Alisi Mamea, Christian James McCutchan, Piliopo Mikaio, Roy Sae, Fitilagipupula Siveria Sima, Penu Ben Satele, Sinaloa Lamosa Sokimi, Pa’oivaoese Tautala, Atene Tevaga, Poyer Timoteo, Tofuinu’u Olive,  Marcy Fa’asi’u Tuifatu, Fa’ai’u Tuiveta and Tuive’eve’e Afoa.

Tyrell Eugene Jesus Ah-Kuoi topped the class and received the overall achievement award while John Fereti received the clinical award and Mareko Amituana’i received the most improvement award.