In a famous text from the Talmud, the importance of helping others is spelled out simply and beautifully, by saying that a person who saves a single life has saved the whole world.
On Shelter Island we have many of these lifesavers among us, volunteering for the Fire Department and the Shelter Island Emergency Medical Services.
The Fire Department held its annual dinner to honor its volunteers last month and a week ago, the EMS held a gala evening at The Pridwin to do the same for its members.
The EMS members save lives on a regular basis; in fact our EMS won a prestigious “award of excellence” not long ago from Stony Brook University Hospital. The award was for recognizing symptoms of a stroke victim and then acting speedily to save a life.
The Island’s EMS was one of only two agencies in all of Suffolk County acknowledged by the medical center for dealing with the successful, speedy and life-saving hospitalization of stroke victims.
In addition, the use of Narcan, the anti-overdose medication, now being used as a nasal inhaler by EMS volunteers, has brought many Islanders back from death’s door. The Shelter Island EMS, as part of a pilot program run by New York State, had become one of the groundbreaking EMS units in the state to employ the inhalers.
Readers of the Reporter don’t have to look to well-deserved awards for accolades about the agency, but simply check out our Letters page where they will find, on a regular basis, families writing to thank the EMS volunteers for their professionalism and courtesy demonstrated in a time of great stress for loved ones injured or ill.
Co-Lieutenant Cathy Rasmussen was named EMT of the Year last week, and the agency also honored Captain Judy Sherman for her 50 years service to the Island as an ambulance squad stalwart. Members of the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation were also recognized for their efforts to make sure the volunteers have the finest equipment and training available.
As Ms. Rasmussen said about her work and the work of all her colleagues: “Do what you can do.”
What we can do is send our heartfelt gratitude to those fighting every day for the health of Islanders in often extreme situations.