While the year of COVID-19 was challenging for most, it arguably was the most challenging for emergency medical service providers, who not only administered the expected life-saving services under stress but also during a pandemic.

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors at its virtual meeting today is set to honor county EMS providers and a behind-the-scenes hero who ensured those providers had the training, resources and support needed to protect their health and well-being during the pandemic.

Supervisors are to hear a presentation of the Annual EMS Provider of the Year Award honoring all Inyo County EMS providers and Bri Chappell-McGovern as Inyo County 2021 EMS Co-Providers of the Year.

The Emergency Medical Care Committee, comprised of representatives from local hospitals and EMS providers throughout the county, makes the nominations for the award.

The committee this year, when reviewing two nominations – one for Chappell-McGovern and the other for all Inyo County EMS providers – decided to recognize both the behind-the-scenes EMS support as well as the EMS providers themselves.

The annual EMS Provider of the Year award was created in 1999 to honor local emergency medical providers in the hope that through the establishment of this award people will be encouraged to become local EMT providers and/or provide other emergency medical services.

This last year has been unique as the EMS community adjusted its response to medical emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the county.

The EMCC recognized the unique challenges that had to be met by each EMS provider during a difficult year.

During this last year, many county EMS providers were faced with some unique challenges.

The committee sought to point out some of the highlights of the last year to supervisors, including:

• Olancha EMS dealt with multiple accident responses with fatalities and severe injuries. These types of responses can take an emotional toll, yet the team continued to ensure EMS needs were met despite the emotional impact.

• Lone Pine EMS facilitated multiple transports of COVID-19 positive patients to Northern Inyo Hospital, ensuring that patients were able to receive the care needed. The physical and emotional stress involved in caring for these patients is significant, especially when many are neighbors and friends. Lone Pine also responded to the car accident that burned the Mt. Whitney hotel and their EMTs and Inyo County Deputy Mike Atkins “were heroic in their efforts to care for the accident victim.”

• Independence EMS engaged in a rescue from Onion Valley area, carrying the accident victim out of the area for more than a mile.

• Big Pine EMS providers “remained calm and collected” as they were dispatched to care for and transport multiple, separate COVID-19 patients who were severely ill. When a homebound COVID-19 patient was unable to get oxygen through the medical oxygen provider, Big Pine found and delivered oxygen to the patient.

• Bishop Fire helped fill the gap by providing back-up support to EMS calls when Symon’s was unavailable.

• Symons Ambulance cared for and transported multiple critical COVID-19 patients during the outbreak at the Bishop Care Center.

• REACH/Sierra LifeFlight spent multiple hours providing air transportation in a pressurized encapsulated tube with COVID-19 patients who were in critical condition and demanded multiple services such as pumps, drips and breathing tubes.

• Southern Inyo Fire Protection District and National Parks Service EMS providers responded to accidents and calls in isolated and remote areas and faced the unique challenge of having to use PPE during months where the temperatures soared above 100 degrees.

• Aspendell/Southfork EMS responded to and cared for critically injured patients from two separate motor vehicle accidents.

• Bishop Police Department were first on the scene on more than one occasion and were able to administer Narcan to several individuals who had overdosed on opiates.

• Search and Rescue spent countless hours caring for patients at extreme altitude and weather conditions, even overnight.

• Northern Inyo Hospital (NIH) and Southern Inyo Hospital (SIH) were both instrumental in ensuring that residents received the care they needed when they needed it. NIH managed multiple COVID-19 patient care situations, especially during the outbreak at the long-term care facility in Bishop and SIH managed an outbreak at its long-term care facility, taking proactive steps to contain and mitigate the impact on residents and staff.

“All of these providers served their communities with care, compassion and courage,” according to the committee. “They donned their PPE to ensure safety, cared for the injured and ill, and spent time after each call to clean and disinfect equipment. Their dedication is to be commended.”

At its meeting in April, EMCC selected all Inyo County Emergency Medical Service providers and Chappell-McGovern to be recognized as the 2021 EMS Co-Providers of the Year.

“It is a great pleasure to recommend that your board approve the proclamation and present the 2021 EMS Co-Providers of the Year award to the representatives present from all emergency medical service providers.”

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to return to open session at 10 a.m. today for its regular agenda. To view and participate, go to www.inyocounty.us and click on “Board Meeting.”

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