Brent Smith loves his job and is pleased with the many ways in which Emergency Medical Services is being recognized across the State for the services it renders to the public. But he is especially pleased with the professional level of care and the continuity of services that Hopkins County EMS renders to persons in need of emergency transport and medical care. In fact, according to Brent, “our EMS vehicles are like a mobile emergency room. All the way from the patient’s residence to Christus Mother Frances Hospital in Sulphur Springs, care can be underway in most areas including stroke, heart attack, sports-related injuries and many more. And most recently, the Texas legislature has recognized Communications officers as First Responders, and that recognition is long overdue for their uniquely crucial services”.
In addition to having the title of Chief Operating Officer of the Hopkins County Hospital District, Brent is EMS Director for the county, under a partnership with Christus/Hopkins Healthcare Alliance. “We employ 36 full-time staffers and 20 PRN’s, or as-needed staff. More EMS personnel are needed, especially in the rural settings. Payscales can sometimes be higher in larger cities and therefore workers may gravitate to those jobs. We usually make our hires funneling in from the three community colleges that offer EMT schools, and from the Fire Academy, another local source of EMT training. But we are excited because SSISD has now put an EMT program in place that allows high schoolers to begin that course of training while finishing high school. We now have a dozen Sulphur Springs Sr’s in the program who may be doing their ‘clinicals’ with our EMS department, while completing classroom portions elsewhere before heading to Paramedic school. They’re looking at this kind of work as a career”.
Another point of pride for Smith are the Mission: Lifeline Gold awards earned by his department annually since 2016, through the American Heart Association. Along with current and former Hopkins County EMS staff, Smith takes pride in the history of EMS in Hopkins County since it’s establishment in 1983. He stated, “our department is part of a unique industry. The Legislature looks upon us as Public Safety, part of the 911 system of response, while the public looks upon us as a medical entity, or healthcare. Actually, we fall into a unique category, in between the two and performing regulated services to both”. He is appreciative for all the recent equipment improvements, including the Lucas Devices provided for the vehicles through the Hopkins County Healthcare Foundation. “The Lucas Device saves lives, because it provides chest compressions that never stop or slow down due to fatigue. Having the Lucas onboard allows staff to perform all the many other duties needed for a transport while being assured that the patient needing chest compression is receiving that in it’s most perfect and most beneficial form. We are still appreciative of that gift.”
“You may see EMS workers with vehicles on-site at local public events, at fairs and rodeos and games. You may not know this, but we frequently go to sessions of the Texas Legislature, to represent our region. This is also part of our job, along with being ready if and when you may need to call from your home for emergency services. We are here to serve Hopkins County”. Brent entered EMT school in 1990, began work with Hopkins County EMS in 1996, and has been in management of the department since 2007.