Right turn changed my life forever

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Helen Ortega

Finding my way to Lancaster County EMS was the result of a quick right turn into an EMS station one day while on a family reunion trip to my brother’s home in Indian Land. Most paramedics have a curiosity about other EMS systems in areas they are visiting and I am no different. Usually I find a system that is woefully in need of better equipment, medical protocols and better personnel.
Surprisingly, I found what I call paramedic nirvana. LCEMS had everything I would have wanted if I was looking for a job. So I wrote an e-mail to the EMS director praising him for his amazing EMS service and this began a dialogue that ended in me saying, “This is the kind of place I’d like to work at when I retire off my administrative position and go back to working patient care!”
His reply was, “When can you be here?”
This set in motion a plan for not only my retirement from my job as a battalion chief, but a move 800 miles north. Six months later, on a cold, snowy morning in January 2009, my first day at Lancaster EMS began. My first day was busy, strange and challenging, yet so inspiring. Each EMT and medic greeted me with respect and true team concept ideals.
I was amazed how well all the first responders, firefighters and EMS worked together and how politics and such were not contaminating the system. It was the best right turn of my life. LCEMS is my extended family and this is home.