Extra treatment: local chaplains ride along on ambulances

Inside the Cumberland Goodwill EMS house, you will find a few extra sets of helping hands. These volunteers go on calls, but they aren't EMT's or paramedics, and they don't treat patients with IV's or bandages.

The volunteers are chaplains, the very first ones in the entire country to ride in the back of an ambulance with patients.

Chaplain Frank Poley said he has been blessed to be a part of the service for the past five years and, although some of the calls are devastating, he enjoys bringing patients some peace during those times.

“Our primary goal is spiritual. It's to try to make these people who are going through a difficult time comfortable inside that ambulance,” he said.

The idea to provide the service came a few years ago after Chaplain Chuck Kish happened to drive up on the scene of a deadly car accident.

“I'll never forget the look on the face of the paramedic who looked at the body, put the blue tarp over it, and as he was walking away I thought to myself, 'we've got to put a chaplain there,' ” he said.

Now, the idea is a part of daily life for the Cumberland Goodwill EMS. The volunteers come in day after day, responding to all types of calls. Sometimes they offer a final prayer for those about to pass. For others, they pray for healing. On some calls, it's just about getting someone to smile.

Chaplain Frank Poley said it's always up to the patient whether or not the chaplains ride along.  Sometimes they want prayer, other times they want non-religious counseling.

“If somebody sees a chaplain coming onto a scene they expect the worst, but the truth of the matter is, you are getting the best,” he explained. “They are not getting the worst, and we are there to help them, walk with them, and be with them during that period of time, and that will always be a blessing.”

The chaplains also offer counseling to the EMT's and paramedics who work at Cumberland Goodwill EMS. Sometimes they pray following a sad call, sometimes they celebrate weddings, sometimes they talk about family issues.

It's a service that, despite your religious beliefs, clearly shows a deep care and love for members of the Carlisle community.

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