Hocking County EMS is always ready for unique challenges
In a county where millions of tourists visit annually, Hocking County EMS personnel must be highly adaptable, proficiently trained and always prepared to meet the challenges of providing exceptional medical services across more than 400 miles of coverage area.
HCEMS Chief Scoot Brooker has been with the department since May of 1993 and was named chief in August 2011. The agency has 28 full-time paramedics and 32 part-time employees, and it completed 4,228 runs in 2018.
Brooker said the department works hard to be prepared and be adaptable to any sort of challenge. This unpredictability is Brooker’s favorite part of the job, but it also can be the most difficult part.
“There is always something different,” he said. “Situations and EMS calls are never the same. The most challenging thing is being able to adapt to the challenges that are presented to you.”
Brooker said his department must be able to meet all the demands of any EMS department, but the geography and tourism heavy Hocking County presents other unique challenges to his personnel.
The department has four Advanced Life Support crews per shift, with two stationed in Logan, one in Laurelville and one in Carbon Hill. One of the four ambulances is unique because it is equipped with rescue tools used to perform auto extrication and rescue operations. The four squads must handle calls across 424 miles of coverage area.
HCEMS also has other specialty units such as the Rope Rescue Team and Tactical Medics. The rope team is necessary because the county boasts nearly 4.3 million tourists annually.
“The major draw to the county is what is known as the Hocking Hills,” he said. “The Hocking Hills region is an area for the outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers along miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, prehistoric caves and spectacular view from the tops of cliffs. This can create a challenge for EMS and rescue personnel when responding to emergencies. HCEMS has numerous members that are trained in rope rescue and are part of a County Wide Rope Rescue Team with members of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Watercraft. “
Brooker also said tactical medics are specially-trained paramedics who serve as support during SWAT operations.
“These specially trained paramedics have successfully completed rigorous training and continue to train to provide the highest quality medical care under difficult conditions,” he said.
Training is a top priority for the department.
“With the addition of a new building, the Mark J. Potter Training Facility, HCEMS has greatly expanded its training division,” he said. “Under the direction of Training Coordinator Jeremy Young HCEMS offers not only a multitude of in-house training but also training to providers not employed by HCEMS.”
Brooker also said technology plays an important role in keeping his personnel on the top of their game.
“Active 911 was a huge step forward for Hocking County,” he said. “Active911 broadcasts all calls for service across a secure text messaging platform to all responders in the county. With Hocking County being very rural, often in the midst of a large-scale event, responders are needed to respond from an off-duty status. Active911 allows for all responders on-duty and off-duty to stay informed on calls for service happening in the county and respond accordingly.”
Brooker said HCEMS joined the Ohio EMS Chiefs Association to show solidarity and cohesiveness with other third-service EMS agencies.
“Many third-service agencies feel as if they are irrelevant and on an island. As you watch the news you always hear about “police and fire” and EMS traditionally goes unrecognized as most assume that EMS is attached to Fire Departments. EMS serves an important role within the community. Many legislative initiatives and state regulations are developed and implemented based on the assumption that EMS and Fire operate as one,” he said. “That is just not the case.”
Brooker said it’s important for third-service EMS agencies to stick together.
“If the third-services join forces, the voice becomes louder and we will no longer be overlooked,” he said.
HCEMS also is working hard no several outreach programs such as the Saving A Life Is Shocking Simple Campaign.
The campaign has a three-fold mission, train citizens of Hocking County in hands-only CPR and the proper use of an AED, make AEDs more accessible within the community and save lives.
“This has been a very successful program and through donations and fundraising efforts HCEMS has been able to place more than 17 AEDs out into the community,” Brooker said.
Another successful campaign has been the Stop The Bleed Program.
“The ‘Stop the Bleed’ campaign was initiated by a federal inter-agency work group convened by the National Security Council Staff, The White House. The purpose of the campaign is to build national resilience by better preparing the public to save lives by raising awareness of basic actions to stop life threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies and man-made and natural disasters,” Brooker said.