DALTON, Mass. — The COVID-19 pandemic has perhaps brought the role of first-responders more to the forefront lately, but these men and women have regularly been serving their communities in numerous emergency situations.
This is a series profiling some of our local first-responders in partnership with Lee Bank to highlight the work they do every day — not just during a pandemic.
Brian Sears wanted to be involved as a first-responder since he was a kid. He found the opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream when he moved to the Berkshires from the Boston area. He's now an emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter in addition to his full-time job as an engineer.
Question: How long have you been an emergency medical technician? What is your title?
Answer: I took my EMT class with County Ambulance in fall of 2017 and became an EMT in early 2018. My title changes based on the service I am working with at the time, volunteer firefighter/EMT in Dalton Fire Department or part-time EMT at County Ambulance.
Q: What influenced you to become an EMT?
A: I've wanted to work in emergency services since I was a kid. As I grew up, my path led me into metal working and welding, and eventually into mechanical engineering, which became my career. When I moved from Boston to the Berkshires, I had the opportunity to follow my interest and I started volunteering in Dalton as a firefighter. Within months, I fell in love with emergency medicine while driving the ambulance on calls and I took the next available EMT class.
Q: So you are not a full-time EMT?
A: No, I am a full-time engineer at Lenco Armored Vehicles in Pittsfield We design and build protected rescue vehicles for our first responders and military. It's a great match of my passion and skills. I find it rewarding because I can use my real-world EMS and fire experience to help create innovative solutions for the customer's needs.
When not working at Lenco, I volunteer for Dalton Fire, work part time with Dalton Ambulance and County Ambulance, either on an ambulance or in the Educational Department assisting in the EMT class. (I told you I had many titles).
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: There are so many things that are great about the work, like the people and making a difference in someone's life in a bad moment for them. The people you work with are your team, friends, family, and you become very close to them. It takes a special personality to work in EMS and we all bond closely.
Helping someone in their time of need is something special. The feeling you get when we make a difference is amazing, when you are able to see someone's symptoms improving in front of you because of interventions that you and your partner are doing, there is nothing quite like it.
Q: What is the most challenging?
A: There are a lot of challenges, but seeing people hurting, not necessarily from an injury but from the circumstances like mental health decline or falling into substance abuse. These are the hard cases for us, because you typically don't have enough time to help the root cause of the situation. We can only get them to a facility to receive the care they need and wish them luck on their journey. We don't have readily assessable tools in the medical bag for those chronic situations.
With colleagues at County Ambulance.
Q: What has changed the most about your job since the onset of COVID-19? Have you seen a significant increase in the number of calls for your services?
A: I think my answer is going to be a very similar one to most people in EMS — the [personal protective equipment] and precautions you take to protect patients and ourselves. We are constantly getting updates from the state on new levels of PPE, new protocols and new testing data about
what works in what situations.
Initially there was a major decrease in calls, and even when people called they didn't want to go to the ER. They wanted help but were afraid to go to the hospital. But call volumes have started to return to more normal numbers. Some people, including myself, felt we had to choose between taking shifts on the ambulance and protecting our full-time jobs because of potential contact chains and not yet fully understood risks and means of infection. Based on the current data, I have been able to get back to my normal routine of shifts and EMS work.
Q: What would you like the general public to know about EMTs and their job responsibilities?
A: Remember that EMS and all responders are humans, we are affected by the situations and calls we go on, sometimes a simple transport with a patient may remind you of your grandparent and you are affected by that call for days to come. I have more than once come into the ER with a patient, getting the job done and as soon as the patient is handed off and you make it back out to the ambulance bay you crumble into a ball of
emotions, these are the times your partners swoop in and help you back up and help you through those moments.
Q: Who or what has influenced you the most since becoming an EMT?
A: I don't think this answer can be limited to one person. EMS is a team effort and the training of a provider is as well. Sure, I have a couple people who are my rocks that I lean on when I need advice or have clinical questions, but everyone who you work with has some impact and teaches you something that affects your thinking as a provider.
In the Education Department at County Ambulance, the group that teaches the EMT-B classes is a tight-knit group and we definitely influence each other every time we meet. We are constantly teaching and learning from each other.
Q: Any advice you would like to offer to our readers to help them stay safe?
A: Assuming this is printed during the pandemic of COVID, March and April were scary and everyone kind of hibernated, but as people are starting to come out and into the world again, we have to stay vigilant. This isn't over and we need to all do our parts with hand washing, face covering and social distancing. We can beat this together, but we have to work together and do our part.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Pittsfield Housing Authority Welcomes New Executive Director
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Pittsfield Housing Authority welcomed a familiar face as its new leader and bid farewell to a longtime board member.
Constance Scott was hired as the executive director last week after many years with the authority, including as assistant director.
The meeting also marked the resignation of Chairman Lucille Reilly, who has served with the housing authority's board for more than 50 years. Her colleagues on the board shared emotional goodbyes and thanked her for her years of dedication to the Pittsfield Housing Authority.
The board voted last week to issue a statement that essentially mirrored current policy that states maneuvers designed to reduce blood or airflow are not authorized or trained by the department.
click for more
School officials voted in August to eliminate the name, but the item was placed on the agenda again in September after a group of alumni and residents communicated that they were unclear that a vote would take place. They wanted a chance to speak to the matter.
click for more
McCandless said he took issue with some of the comments made and noted the administration made sure cafeteria employees were kept working through the outset of the pandemic and the summer.
click for more