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FHC paramedics win S.C. regional competition for 5th straight year

| Date Posted: 3/7/2011

FirstHealth EMS-Chesterfield

Larry Diggs (left) and Lee Wallace, competing as a team representing FirstHealth EMS-Chesterfield, have won the Pee Dee Regional EMS championship for five consecutive years. In April, they will compete with four other paramedic teams for the South Carolina State Paramedic Championship.

CHERAW, S.C. – For five consecutive years, FirstHealth paramedics Larry Diggs and Lee Wallace have participated in the Pee Dee EMS Regionals, a preliminary to the South Carolina State Paramedic Competition.

For five consecutive years, they have claimed first-place honors.

This year, they hope to add the title of South Carolina State Paramedic Champions to their winning resume.

“Only the best of the best go to the state,” says Chad Blakley, director of FirstHealth Regional EMS. “It really shows your service and what you provide to the citizens of South Carolina.”

For seven years, Diggs and Wallace have competed as a team representing FirstHealth EMS-Chesterfield, where they once worked together. Diggs, a FirstHealth employee for 11 years, is currently a senior paramedic there. Wallace, also a paramedic for 11 years – 10 years with FirstHealth, now manages FirstHealth’s Transfer Center in Pinehurst.

To get to the 2011 state championship, the two men competed with seven other paramedic teams for the Pee Dee Regionals that were held Feb. 12 in Florence. The large district covers 20 South Carolina counties from Georgetown and Myrtle Beach west to Chesterfield.

Their competition included new teams and old teams, including “folks we’ve beaten before,” says Wallace.

“Several times,” says Diggs.

Teams earned points based on how well they responded to the event, managed the scene, and assessed and treated the “victim” in a scenario involving a single-victim home electrocution.

By now veterans of five previous state contests (their first Pee Dee championship came in 2004), Diggs and Wallace know to expect that a more technical scenario will likely come their way during the state event and that they will probably be expected to call up skills and information that they would otherwise use only rarely in real-life situations.

During the April 14 state championship at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, they will join three other regional paramedic pairs to take on the 2010 Paramedic Champions, Steve Tackett and Don Whiteley III, of Richland County EMS. The other regional teams will represent Williston EMS (Lowcountry Champions), Richland County EMS (Midlands Champions) and Spartanburg EMS (Upstate Champions).

Each team will get 15 minutes to demonstrate the skills and procedures necessary for responding to a scenario that will remain secret until the time of individual competition. Participants will wear microphones so they can be heard by what is usually a large crowd of Convention Center onlookers.

Although competition is always intense, Diggs and Wallace agree that they leave each event with information that they can share with the rest of the FirstHealth team.

“We always leave with a new knowledge of what went on there,” Wallace says.

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