Wakulla EMS

Wakulla County has a medically trained team that's gaining ground and recognition this year. They're called First Responders, and they play a crucial role in emergency response.

When the trucks respond to an emergency call, every minute counts, but there's a lot of ground to cover, making it crucial to call in the reserves.

Mark Aries says, “You generally beat the ambulance. You can be instrumental in saving a life that way.”

Their title of “First Responder” was born some 27 years ago in Wakulla County.

Steve Pigott, Wakulla's original First Responder, says, “The first class was held in 1977. At that time, it was directed by Eric Hindle.”

It was the first of its kind in all of Florida, with 15 volunteers. These days, the program has exploded to nearly 100.

Frances Councill, EMS Director, says, “Health care changed, used to be load and go. Now, [it’s] a continuum of care and it starts with preventative things.”

They are preventative things like administering oxygen, assisting with emergency births, even stabilizing a cardiac arrest. First Responders can be your neighbor, going above and beyond the call of duty.

For Michael Aries, it's a family tradition.

Michael says, “I was brought in by dad. I learned it from him; hopefully my kids will learn from me.

They receive no pay and little recognition, but to these volunteers the rewards are worth the sacrifice.

Over the years Wakulla County has received two of the First Responder of the Year Awards, a valuable recognition across the state of Florida.