Laurel emergency crews wear pink to show support

By Tony E. Windsor

When Laurel Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Captain, Amos Callaway, attended a recent medical conference, he saw something that caught his eye, and his heart. He noticed there were a large number of conference attendees who were wearing shirts promoting breast cancer awareness. This caused him to consider an opportunity back at home. "While I was at the conference I got the idea that our EMS crew and the Laurel Fire Department could show our support for breast cancer awareness by wearing pink shirts," he said. "I felt that our EMS personnel would provide a great opportunity because we represent the fire department and are seen the most frequently by the public."

Callaway immediately emailed the Laurel Fire Department president and the fire chief to find out what they might think of the idea. The idea was embraced by the Laurel Fire Department administration and Callaway set out to get things moving. "We want to choose two months out of the year to promote breast cancer awareness," he said. Callaway said the fire department has recently ordered a pink backboard for use in transporting victims from accident and fire scenes as another way to keep people thinking "pink" and raising awareness of breast cancer prevention. Callaway said his idea is not unique, but he is excited that emergency crews in Laurel can help the national campaign to raise awareness. "It has become more prevalent around the country.

I know this year the Prince George Fire Department in Maryland has a pink fire truck for the cause and in Federalsburg they have a pink ambulance," he said. "Other departments in Sussex County are doing similar awareness and fundraising projects including Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach. I am by far not the first one to think of this and don't expect to get credit for coming up with the idea. I just think that it's good to show our support for the community just as the community shows support for us. It is always good to give back."

Callaway said the goal is to raise awareness and money for breast cancer prevention. "If the money we raise turns one patient's life around or touches a group of people we are all for it," he said.

The Laurel Volunteer Fire Department has about 60 active members. There are also seven full-time paid employees who work as emergency medical service professionals. Callaway said the pink shirts with the breast cancer awareness message will be worn as part of the uniform by the EMS professionals because they will be out in the community every day of the month. The pink backboard will be used year around and will help to support the awareness message.

Callaway sees the breast cancer awareness project as just one more way the Laurel Fire Department can support the community. "I see this as another way to reach out to the community and show people we care," he said. "Obviously, we wish we could help everyone as we do when we are out on an emergency call, but the reality is we can't. We want to spread the word just as much as every other group that shows support for breast cancer awareness. We plan on donating a certain amount of our proceeds to a breast cancer awareness group such as 'Women Supporting Women,' or another similar organization."

For Callaway and his colleagues at the Laurel Fire Department, supporting breast cancer awareness is a way to show that although the service they provide is lifesaving and extremely valuable to the citizens of Laurel, the organization wants to show a mutual spirit of giving. "As a largely volunteer organization we depend a great deal on the community for funding, such as our fund drives for both the ambulance and fire services. I feel with this breast cancer awareness project we can show our willingness and desire to give back to our community."

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