Overnight heroes: AMR crews saving lives across WNY

Posted at 8:06 AM, Oct 31, 2017

Western New York has hundreds of people working while most of us are sleeping, working to keep the streets safe and responding to emergencies. They're our first responders, doctors, nurses, police officers and firefighters—just to name a few.

7 Eyewitness News is kicking off a month-long series called "Overnight Heroes" where we lift the curtain to show you what it takes to do the job during the darkness. You can follow #OvernightHeroesWKBW on Twitter for updates.

We started with the hard working men and women at American Medical Response. AMR has more than 500 EMTS, paramedics and other staff members working together to provide life-saving care to Western New Yorkers.

Our 7EWN crew spent a night shadowing Army veteran and paramedic Eric Smith and EMT Michelle Joseph. The pair works 12-hour shifts, four days at a time. Smith and Joseph spend their night covering different areas of Buffalo to cut down on response times. In the night we spent with them, they covered a number of different zones, including Grant-Ferry, Lovejoy, Bailey-Seneca and Delevan-Grider. 

AMR crews respond to anything from a call for dizziness to mangled car crashes, but Smith says, "No matter if you have a runny nose or you're suffering from cardiac issues, I treat you exactly the same...We're not here to judge." 

When it comes to patient care, both Smith and Joseph agreed on one thing: being calm and being relatable. "You have to remain calm. You have to remain calm and realize it could be you in this situation, what you would want said to you and how you’d want it explained to you," says Joseph.

This calmness sometimes comes at a cost, taking an emotional toll on the paramedics and EMTs. “We train a lot of people to do this job and some don’t stay with it, they don’t like the type of job it is. They don’t like the stress of the job, the things they see. That can take a toll on you. It can be one call, five calls, ten calls until you see something that bothers you," says Smith. To keep themselves healthy, the medical personnel at AMR turn to their vast support system: friends, family, coworkers and managers.

When asked what people should know about the high-stress job environment, Joseph says this: “Sometimes you can’t leave the job at the job. You bring it home and not having friends or family that are there to support you and understand what you do day in and day out can be very challenging.” 

The next time you see an AMR crew stationed in a parking lot or at a street corner, wave and say hello to the men and women working to provide life-saving care.