Being an EMS volunteer: ‘A lot of sacrifice, but it’s worth it’

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Monroe EMS Commission Chairman John Brenna, far left, at the annual EMS picnic with, from left, EMT Kristen Miller, Capt. Steven Shiskin, Deputy Chief Craig Rosenberg, First Selectman Ken Kellogg and Chief Don Smith.

Monroe emergency medical technicians, from left, Kristen Miller, Capt. Steven Shiskin and Deputy Chief Craig Rosenberg were honored for going above and beyond in 2018.

Monroe depends on its Emergency Medical Service volunteers to come to the rescue of victims of car crashes, heart attacks and other types of trauma, stabilizing patients and giving them ambulance rides to the hospital.

The town honored its volunteers at the annual EMS picnic at Wolfe Park Saturday afternoon, on a day when three members received special recognition for their long hours of dedication.

“I want to recognize all our volunteers, from the ones who put in 18 hours a month to those who put in 50 hours a month,” said EMS Chief Don Smith. “Each and every one of them is important. The ones we’re honoring go above and beyond. It’s tough. It’s hours away from friends and family that you’re giving to the community.”

Smith also expressed appreciation for members who have families, ordinary jobs and commitments, yet still find time to serve on nights and weekends.

“It takes all of us working as a team to run this service and every member does a great job,” Smith said.

John Brenna, the EMS Commission chairman, said Monroe’s EMS has close to 50 members, counting new people who are in training.

Those receiving plaques Saturday included Deputy Chief Craig Rosenberg, Capt. Steven Shiskin and Kristen Miller, an emergency medical service technician and the organization’s community affairs liaison.

Miller  provided 450 hours of emergency medical care in 2018 and Shiskin provided 440 hours. Rosenberg provided over 380 hours of emergency medical care, including a record 44 home responses last year.

“Somebody’s gotta do it, it may as well be us,” Miller said. “Have fun. Do it with a smile. It’s a lot of sacrifice, but it’s worth it.”

“It’s just helping the community, plain and simple,” Shiskin said. “I enjoy doing it and we have a great group here at EMS.”

“I think it’s all about giving back to the community by a great group of people,” Rosenberg said.

First Selectman Ken Kellogg, who had served as a paramedic in Stratford himself, signed the plaques and attended Saturday’s picnic.

“Volunteerism in our town is so important,” he said. “It’s part of the fabric of our community. We’re grateful to have so many volunteers. EMS is one of those core groups that are central to providing services for our town. These are neighbors who are providing essential services for those in need of emergency care.”

The first selectman said the EMS has a $895,000 budget with $585,000 of that mostly covered by billing insurance companies for transports. Smith said if the town went to a totally paid service, it would cost taxpayers significantly more.

“Everyone here has a commitment to the town,” Smith said. “These are your neighbors who are helping you. The volunteers who are doing this, do it because they care and they want to help the community — and sometimes seeing a friendly face may help.”

For information on how to become a volunteer, visit the Monroe Volunteer EMS website.

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