O’Fallon EMS Explorers Unit off to a spectacular start

BY TERRY CHAPMAN 
WEEKLY REPORTER
EMS Week 2016

The O’Fallon EMS Explorers are honored at the May 2 City Council Meeting. (Photo Courtesy of Pam Funk, Assistant City Administrator)

O’FALLON – Tim McClain is a man who enjoys the work that he does.

As a current paramedic for the city of O’Fallon, McClain spent 23 years in the United States Air Force, of which he spent the last 13 years as a flight medic. McClain, now in his forty’s, had begun his career in the medical field at a much younger age. When he was just 16 years old, McClain became a part of an explorers unit in his home state of South Carolina. An explorers unit serves to educate the youth who are interested in a particular field through experience. The positive experience that McClain had as an explorer is partially what inspired him to begin the EMS Explorers Unit.

“It’s mainly to showcase the EMS Profession,” McClain explains. “It’s not something that gets a lot of publicity nationwide. It’s not just in the midwest. People get a good picture of the law enforcement side and the fire rescue/ fire department side of things by watching the tv shows that are out there.” McClain attributes the underexposure of the EMS profession to this.

In most cases, the EMS and Fire Department explorers units are usually one in the same, however, McClain set out to create something unique to the entire metro east. McClain went through the Boy Scouts of America’s Learning for Life Program, which helped the explorers become a recognized unit in as little as a few days. Not only did the BSOA help McClain establish the unit quickly, but they also handle the insurance costs. The city provides the uniforms and covers the fees.

“All the explorers need is a good pair of work boots and time,” McClain said.

The explorers unit is for any young adult interested in the medical field.

“We’ve got explorers who want to be nurses, and others that say they would like to be doctors. This is a way to get these kids exposed to the medical community at an early age where they can start to get an understanding of how medicine works, but they’re looking at it on the front lines,” McClain said.

The age group of those involved is diverse. Most are freshman around 14 to 16 years-old, but there are also two high school juniors. The knowledge that they receive is invaluable.

“We do a lot of things in the back of an ambulance that preps patients for when they get to the hospital. We can fix a multitude of emergencies. We can save people’s lives. The things that we do can be the difference between life and death,” McClain said.

The program was given exposure at a community meeting on May 2, where McClain says that they received “nothing but outstanding support from the city, from the mayor down.”

Teaching is something that is second nature to McClain and he enjoys helping these teenagers learn and grow.

“Right now, I don’t see anything that’s going to stop us from continuing to grow. We’ve got three spots open, and once the word get’s out, I have a feeling we’ll grow even more.”

The motto, which is “Public Relations, Community Support” is something that McClain and the explorers adhere to.

If you are interested in joining the EMS Explorers Unit, contact public safety, or Tim McClain via email at tmcclain@ofallon.org.