ANDERSON, SC – On Friday, May 1, more than 1200 special athletes, 800+ volunteers, hundreds of Soldiers and multitudes of spectators all gathered on the grounds of Fort Jackson. What did this throng of people have in common? They had all gathered for the South Carolina Special Olympics Summer Games. What they probably didn’t know was that they were all under the watchful eyes of a very special group of volunteers… the SC Special Olympics Medical Team, who were poised to react quickly to any incident, injury or illness.
Although home-based in Anderson County, South Carolina, this Medical Team protects our athletes, volunteers and spectators at all S.C. Special Olympics games throughout the state. Coordinated by Anderson County paramedics Lea Davis and Jessica Poirier along with Anderson County’s director of EMS & Special Operations Scott Stoller, the team is comprised of 12 emergency medical technicians, paramedics and nurses. While the majority of the team resides in Anderson County, the unit also includes members from Bowers EMS and Spartanburg EMS, as well as South Carolina State EMS Coordinator Dr. Arnold Alier, who joined this year.
Guess how much it costs Anderson County Taxpayers. Zero! Zilch! The Special Olympics Medical Team costs taxpayers ZERO! The Team is funded by donations from the public and staffed by medical professionals who take vacation time from their jobs in order to volunteer several weekends a year to provide medical care at every South Carolina Special Olympics event throughout the State. They are at each and every competition, providing paramedic-level care to thousands of special athletes, coaches, volunteers and fans.
“In addition to performing their full time jobs, many Anderson County employees dedicate time to organizing and participating in local events, providing many hours of volunteer service to our community’s not-for-profit organizations throughout the year,” said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. “We are proud of our employees who serve on the S.C. Special Olympics Medical Team. By volunteering their time, talents and energy, our employees make Anderson County an excellent place to live.”
According to Coordinator Jessica Poirier, “typical medical situations encountered can range from cut fingers and stomach aches to seizures, diabetic problems and asthma attacks. During this competition, the most serious patient we attended was an athlete having a severe asthma attack.”
“I am extremely proud of my staff and the other EMS professionals that give of their time to help others, even after working their full-time EMS jobs all week,” said Team Coordinator Stoller. “We aim for injury and illness prevention as well as keeping the athletes in the game. However, we typically wind up having to transport 2-5 patients to the hospital.”
When asked about the worst case encountered by the Team, Stoller answered, “We had an athlete suffer sudden cardiac arrest on the bocce court at the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center.” Poirier went on to say, “in that situation, we were able to perform CPR and defibrillate, resuscitating the athlete even before the ambulance arrived.” Both Stoller and Poirier agreed that had this team of dedicated professionals not been there, it is likely that the athlete would not have survived.
The South Carolina Special Olympics Medical Team is a unique program which provides close proximity paramedic service for quick response to an incident before a fully-equipped ambulance can respond, very similar to the Anderson County Quick Response Vehicle (QRV) Paramedic Program lead by Stoller.
For additional information about the South Carolina Special Olympics Medical Team or how you can make a donation to help purchase medical supplies, please contact Scott Stoller at 864-209-1101 or[email protected].