HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – This week is National EMS week and many across the valley have been showing their apperception to first responders. ValleyCentral paid a visit to EMS workers in Harlingen who say their jobs have been difficult at times, but it’s their help to the community that makes their work worth it.

“The whole thing about this is about community service and that is what we are we are a community service,” said Rene Perez.

Perez has been a paramedic for the last 30 years. While every emergency call Perez has responded to over the years has been different, the last two years of the pandemic have changed his profession.

“They were putting in long hours and we had those putting in extra shifts because some co-workers got sick,” Perez said. “It was one of those things where everybody kind of got together and worked as a team.”

Perez is the Director of Patient Transportation Services for the South Texas Emergency Care Foundation. Perez tells ValleyCentral that the most difficult of being an EMS worker is seeing a high fatality rate. But there are also calls that have happy endings.

“On our side, we don’t know if they ever survived the event or not,” Perez said. “But the fact that they came by and say thank you is a great feeling to have.”  

But there is still a need for more EMS workers in the valley. Jodi Espinoza became a paramedic five months ago at just 20 years old. Espinoza says she always wanted to help people.

“I’ve been on that end where you are just helpless and you need someone to help you,” Espinoza said. ” So it’s rewarding knowing that you are able to do something.”  

Other health care worker from Harlingen Medical Center also showed their appreciation Friday, by giving all EMS workers free barbeque plates. EMS Liaison Faith Escobar tells ValleyCentral it’s just a small way to say thank you.

“It has just been really eye-opening to see all the different aspects that they deal with,” Escobar said. ” They are not only dealing with the clinical aspects of it but they are also with the aspects at home.”  

As EMS Week winds down, Perez says first responders like him will continue to help the public and each other.

“We want everybody to go home at the end of the day,” Perez said. “We are very big on the safety part that just to make sure that at the end of the day we go home too.”