EMS Day, part of National EMS Week, is a day of visibility for Endeavor Emergency Squad. The nonprofit, partially volunteer-staffed organization has provided medical services to Burlington Township, Burlington City, Edgewater Park and Springfield Township since 1940, yet many residents of these areas are unfamiliar with the people who provide them with this service.
This is, according to Chief David Ekelburg, what EMS Day is all about – inviting the public in to meet their emergency service providers face-to-face.
“(EMS Week) is for squads to be recognized by the community so the community understands what EMS does, because in most cases people have no clue about what we do and where we come from other than they call and we come,” said Ekelburg.
According to the chief, in addition to community awareness, many squads use EMS Week to complete specialized training and as an opportunity to recognize and award their EMT staff.
On Saturday, June 1, Endeavor opened its station’s doors to the public, offering tours of the facility and vehicles, information on safety and public resources as well as some fun activities for kids.
Engaging with young people and sparking an interest at an early age can help with future recruitment efforts, another goal for the day according to Ekelburg. Several of the squad’s volunteer staff use the organization as a springboard for a career in the medical field.
“We have a lot of people that are in nursing or are going on through their careers, and this is kind of like a stepping stone. It gives them real-life experience,” said Ekelburg.
Blair Kokotajlo has been an EMT at Endeavor for the past three years. For EMS Day, she performed CPR demonstrations and invited visitors to participate using CPR dummies to simulate a person in need of resuscitation.
Kokotajlo believes even a brief introduction to proper CPR technique, like what she was demonstrating at the event, can be vital knowledge. In an emergency situation, she says flawed action is better than no action when waiting for emergency personnel to arrive on a scene.
“We’re giving them an opportunity for a hands-on experience with what it’s like to actually do CPR on a person,” said Kokotajlo. “Even bad CPR is good CPR, any kind of CPR can save a life.”
Clifton Knight is a 20-year veteran volunteer EMT with Endeavor who came out to support his squad on EMS Day. He joined the organization after he was inspired to get involved by the events of 9/11.
“I was riding home on the Turnpike that day and seeing all the ambulances rushing to New York I thought it’s time for me to step up and do more,” said Knight.
He completed his EMT certification shortly after signing on with Endeavor and has volunteered much of his time outside of his day job to the organization. After many years of performing field work typical of an EMT, Knight transitioned to a seat on the board.
According to Knight, a few years ago Endeavor officials reached out to him to fill an empty seat and bring his experience from a business perspective, having earned his MBA and his current work in IT, to the table.
“I felt honored that they approached me with that, it gave me a chance to do more from a business perspective within the organization,” said Knight.
For him, the work he does for Endeavor is all about a passion for giving back to his community. He seems to get more out of his time volunteering with the organization than he does from his full-time job.
“This gave me a greater sense of purpose. I have stress at my regular job but the stress is different, it’s much more meaningful here. This is my opportunity to give back and to help the people who live around me in the communities that we serve,” said Knight.
For more information on Endeavor Emergency Squad, visit endeavorsquad.org.