In 1968, when I was 14 years old and growing up in downtown Charleston, I found my father having a seizure on the kitchen floor. I had no idea what to do. So I called the police department, and they sent a police officer in a station wagon with a stretcher in the back to our house. Together, we loaded my father into the the station wagon and raced to the hospital. The police officer drove and I was at my father’s side following instructions.

I had no first-aid training and no idea what a seizure was. I just wanted my father to be all right. We made it to the hospital, and my father survived. Ironically, we lived one block from a fire station where trained firefighters sat unaware of any problems down the street.

That day changed my life forever. I was given an opportunity to have my father in my life for many more years. I went on to learn first aid and CPR; then I became a first aid and CPR instructor.

Several years later I was lucky enough to land a job with the recently established EMS.

The Emergency Medical Services program has come to mean much more than just an ambulance responding to a call for assistance. Dialing “911” these days sets organized chaos into action. From the operator who takes the call, to the physician who treats you in the emergency room, we are all part of a team dedicated to saving lives.

National EMS Week (May 20-26) will celebrate unnamed heroes who volunteer their time and leave their families to help strangers in need. It celebrates the police officers and sheriff’s deputies who come to your aid, and the firefighters who respond and render assistance, until the EMS unit arrives.

With the advent of computer aided dispatch, it all comes together to provide you with the assistance you need when you need it — as fast as possible. However, behind all this organized chaos are people — responders and volunteers — who love to help complete strangers without a thought of what’s in it for them.

Celebrate EMS Week by thanking the stranger who helps you at your car accident, or by pulling to the right to let emergency vehicles pass.

It’s been quite a few years since I have been privileged enough to be a part of Emergency Medical Services.

The orchestration involved is truly awe inspiring in the way emergency responders are placed in positions of helping the person in need with integrity and dedication.

The next time you are in or around an emergency situation, express your appreciation. It will be easy to pick them out of a crowd. Look for the person running toward the danger when the rest are running away. God bless them one and all.

Robert O. Shumate Tim Ascue Lane