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AMR frontline workers honored during National EMS Week

This week is National Emergency Medical Services week and locally, American Medical Response is celebrating.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 1:31 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 4:51 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - This week is National Emergency Medical Services week and locally, American Medical Response (AMR) is celebrating.

“This year, for our providers, is extra special just because of the pandemic,” said AMR Operations Manager Patrick Leonardo.

Paramedics, EMTs, and dispatchers are all being honored at AMR in Springfield during National Emergency Medical Services week.

“We are 24/7. We do not stop and many times, the providers are giving up events that have to do with their families, they’re sacrificing, it’s long shifts. It’s a very stressful job. We’re very cognizant of the fact that we need to talk about mental wellness and mental health,” Leonardo added.

Leonardo told Western Mass News operations have shifted over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but all 405 AMR employees always ensuring patient care first.

“A lot has changed in the last 24 months when it comes to resources and how we respond to calls. We have to be more aware of the type of calls coming in, which calls you need to wear protective equipment on, and which ones you don’t. You want to make sure that you’re providing the best care possible,” Leonardo explained.

One major focus of the past two years has been running the regional COVID-19 testing site at the Eastfield Mall.

“We just got extended to the end of August. The project was supposed to last 11 days, so looking back now, it’s almost two years. We went from a couple hundred test to a max of almost 3,800 tests in one day, testing 400 people an hour. It was quite the operation,” Leonardo noted.

One special member of the AMR team in Springfield is Freddie the therapy dog.

“Freddie’s role…Basically, he gives the crews smiles. You know, they come back after shift and sit on the floor with them and he just puts his head in their lap and they pet him and he just makes them smile you know,” said AMR Administrative Supervisor Melissa Piscitelli.

Piscitelli works as Freddie’s primary handler. She said that while Freddie is an important part of recognizing the importance of mental health in their line of work, getting to celebrate EMS Week is an added bonus.

“The days, the weeks, they seem to fly by and we get so busy, I think sometimes we forget to give that thank you. It just gives us a dedicated week to get that extra special thank you to our crews that worked so hard every single day for us,” Piscitelli noted.