If you google the name Felix Baumgartner the word daredevil appears in his job description. On October 14, more than 8 million people watched that daredevil in action when the 43-year-old Austrian jumped from a capsule 128,000 feet above Earth and landed on his feet in the New Mexico desert. While opinions were mixed as to the validity of the project—with a fair amount of negative commentary online—you could not help but be awestruck as Felix pushed the boundaries of human endurance.
This year’s National EMS Award winners may not have such a high profile, but awestruck is how we feel about their achievements. In particular, New Orleans EMS (NOEMS), recipient of the Dick Ferneau Paid Service of the Year, sponsored by Ferno, shows just what can be accomplished when dedicated personnel come together to battle through situations as extreme as a 128,000-foot free fall.
While New Orleans crews still report to the “temporary” FEMA trailers from which they’ve been running operations since Hurricane Katrina, there is nothing temporary about the commitment they demonstrate to embrace new technologies, protocols and training, and deliver the best prehospital care to the citizens of the Big Easy.
“To think that such a first-class service, with progressive medical protocols and state-of-the-art technology, was without even ambulances a mere six years ago is quite remarkable,” says Natalie A. Phelan, a special agent with the FBI-New Orleans Joint Terrorism Task Force, who has worked with NOEMS on mass event planning.
New Orleans EMS, along with all our other award winners, will all be recognized at the EMS World Expo, Oct. 31–Nov. 2, in New Orleans, LA.