A community relies on people who can step in and help when the need arises.

CANANDAIGUA — Day or night, summer, winter, spring or fall, people in the community need you.

It may be an elderly person who is ill, a child who fell off a bicycle or a skier who hit a tree. We respond to all kinds of calls. But what does it take to answer the call?

We have staff and volunteers for the job. Nevertheless, whether it’s a paid employee or volunteer, there are some common threads in the folks here at Canandaigua Emergency Squad.

No one in this business is here to get rich. The pay is low, the hours are long and the thanks are few. It has been said of medics that they are the people who see things no one should ever have to see, deal with people in a professional and rational manner who are not rational, and give care to those who care about no one. It can take a personal toll on providers, but ask any one of them and they will probably say they wouldn’t trade the opportunity for anything.

So what drives these dedicated and caring providers?

There isn’t one common force, but there are some common traits. Many have a personal tie to emergency medical services, having either a friend or relative already involved. Some have had a personal need for our service and want to give back to the community. Some are looking to advance themselves into another medical or public-safety career. Others come to us to be part of something bigger than themselves.

There is no typical day in our business, and that’s another thing that draws people to what we do.

One day might be relatively slow and host mostly non-acute calls. The next could be busy and filled with challenges. But whether it’s holding the hand of an elderly patient who is dehydrated from vomiting (and getting a little on you) or stopping the bleeding from an atrial hemorrhage, these providers do their jobs with professionalism and compassion.

Uniforms can be changed, vehicles and equipment can be cleaned, but you have only one chance to make the person you provide care for feel comforted and safe.

So what does it take to answer the call?

It takes someone who can provide empathy to an elderly husband while informing him his wife of 52 years is beyond help. It takes someone who can set aside their personal feelings and provide treatment to a drunk driver who just ran over three kids on the sidewalk and crashed into a building. It takes someone who can overcome their personal distaste of blood and bodily fluids and still do the job. It takes someone who can get past the smell of burnt flesh and let the teenager pulled from the wreckage know you are going to do everything possible for them, and then do it.

Our work isn’t as glamorous as some professions, but the personal rewards cannot compare.

What does it take to answer the call?

It takes people like you, and I’m inviting you to join our team. Please call or stop in today, or visit us at canandaiguaes.org for more information on how you can help your community.

About this series

Chief Ken Beers is a 40-year veteran of the emergency medical services field and has led Canandaigua Emergency Squad since 2001. CES, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit unit that receives no tax-based support, responds to more than 5,000 calls per year in Ontario County and partners with the East Bloomfield Volunteer Ambulance. For more information, go to canandaiguaes.org. If you have questions or want to get involved, send emails to info@canandaigues.org.