KENANSVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – With a nationwide shortage of paramedics, this week is all about recognizing the men and women responding to the thousands of medical emergencies each year. 

EMS Week runs from May 21-27. Many of the paramedics and EMTs in Duplin County have been responding to emergencies for several years now.

“I took the EMT class here at a local community college as a junior in high school and started working at Duplin EMS part-time as a senior in high school. And I’ve been here ever since,” said A-shift Captain Dustin Swinson. 

EMS Director Brandon McMahon said he knew this is what he wanted to do, after seeing his aunt help victims of Hurricane Floyd. 

“I just fell in love with it ever since,” said McMahon. “You never know what to expect and it’s always something different here.”

The team responds to calls anywhere from traffic accidents to even just someone in need of a person to talk to.

“One of the most notable things that’s ever happened to me in my career was actually delivering a child on the side of the road. I was obviously scared to death because I’ve never done it before,” said Swinson. “Now I’m actually fortunate enough to watch her grow up. And she’s nine years old now.”

Before each shift, they inspect their vehicles and gear. The team works shifts 24 hours on, 72 hours off, so the long hours have created unbreakable bonds with one another.

“When you spend that much time with someone who might not be your blood family, they do become your family,” said Swinson. “My co-workers are without a doubt my extended family.”

It’s all in the hopes to save lives each and every day.

“There’s no greater honor than to respond to someone on their absolute worst day, whether it be in their living room or in a roadside ditch, and to turn things around for them and truly see a positive outcome come from that,” added Swinson.

The emergency medical team encourages everyone to have a basic understanding of CPR and first aid training, to help assist them before they arrive at a call.