ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — It’s National EMS Week, which encourages community members to show their appreciation for the service of their local emergency medical services workers, including paramedics, EMTs and the entire EMS workforce.

A new EMT in Rockingham County shared why she decided to enter the field.

Six months ago, Lee Caulder started working as an EMT in Rockingham County, which is the place where she grew up.

She decided to work in EMS after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2022.

“I have always been interested in the medical field … I realized I wanted to actually get my hands on and give back to my community,” Caulder said.

She commutes more than 30 minutes to the call center, showing her determination to help those who need emergency medical services.

“It’s very rewarding, just personally … being able to help these people,” she said.

At the 911 call center, dispatchers work quickly to ensure whoever is calling that help is on the way, beginning the process that connects EMS workers with patients.

“It’s a lot of people, and they put in a lot of work and effort … you don’t always see us. We’re usually your call on your worst day. But … we’re there. We’re always here to help,” Caulder said.

Staffing shortages have been a struggle for the last year and have made it harder for these workers to get a break and regroup after what they hear and see.

“We can run anywhere from six calls to ten calls to 11 calls a day in a 12-hour period,” Caulder said.

“There are conditions that they go in on a daily routine basis that they don’t unsee. They don’t put that on the back burner. And it’s in their minds at all times. So granted, they have a lot of training, a lot of expertise, and they are perfectionists at what they do,” said Rodney Cates, Rockingham County Emergency Services director.

National EMS Week raises public awareness about the critical role of EMS workers in the community.

“You can’t put a monetary value on the feeling you have when you save someone’s life,” Cates said.

In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to honor workers in the field for the service they provide in communities across our country.