Most of us hope to be remembered long after we're gone, and that will certainly be the case for EMS providers in South Carolina.
In August, Oconee Medical Center in Seneca dedicated a new memorial at the flagpole that sits in front of the EMS building honoring four individuals who gave more than 10 years of service to EMS.
The project was made possible by donations from Walhalla Rescue Squad, a volunteer service that works for the hospital, in honor of two of its members.
Bricks inscribed with names and years of service honor the memory of four providers in all: Harley Chapman, Sr., who served from 1981 to 2006; Slay Whitfield, who served from 1970 to 1980; Mike Wigington, 1985 to 1995; and Ray Corn, 1966 to 1990. At the dedication ceremony, State Senator Thomas Alexander presented flags that had flown over the state capitol and now fly over the memorial at Oconee Medical Center.
"At the same time we dedicated the memorial, we did a special dedication of the EMS garage in honor of Harley Chapman," says Oconee Medical Center EMS Supervisor William Tatum. "He was a long-time shift supervisor and an on-the-side mechanic, who gave a lot of time and effort off the clock to keep those units rolling. Unfortunately, two years after he retired, he stopped by the station one day to drop off some equipment and 20 minutes after he left, we were doing CPR on him. It was quite a shock to lose him, and we still haven't recovered from it."
Still under construction at a general county complex in Calhoun County, SC, is a state memorial that will honor all who served in EMS and died in the line of duty since the mid-1970s, says Tatum.
"The state memorial is a collaboration of several groups, including the PIER (Public Information Education and Relations) team, which I head, the South Carolina EMS Association and the EMS Educators Association."
After much discussion about where it should be located, the committee decided on the government building, which had a structure within it that wasn't being used and fit their needs.
"It's 15 minutes outside of Columbia, right off Interstate 26, and it's a rural area with not much traffic," says Tatum. "We agreed to lease it from Calhoun County for 50 years for $1, with the understanding that any modifications to the structure and surrounding area will be approved by the county council."
At this time, bricks are being sold to fund the memorial, which was dedicated during this past EMS Week, with the hope that there will be names inscribed on the bricks by EMS Week 2012. There will also be a special place of honor for names of past EMS personnel whose deaths were not line of duty, adds Tatum.
"We're still working on final details, and we've gotten a lot of good feedback. The location is more rural than what we're used to, but we agreed that no matter where we put it, if people want to see it, they'll come."