This week is the 47th annual celebration of EMS professionals and is also National Police Week.
South Carolina has 272 EMS agencies and more than 11,000 emergency personnel, including first responders, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and paramedics. Together, these workers form an EMS system that requires a highly coordinated response for emergency medical care.
DHEC also has our own law enforcement officers who work they every day to protect and promote the health of the public and the environment.
We thank and honor these workers for their dedication, service, and commitment.
National EMS Week
The South Carolina Division of EMS and Trauma is part of the DHEC’s Healthcare Quality division and monitors and develops protocols, designates trauma centers, and certifies EMTs and paramedics.
“Through it all, EMS continues to respond, support and care for the needs of our communities,” said Rich Wisniewski, MAEL, CPM, NRP, director of EMS and Trauma.
As part of this year’s celebration, the Division of EMS in the Bureau of Healthcare Systems and Services hosted a Stop the Bleed training session for HQ staff in recognition of Save-A-Life Day.
The goal of the program is to save lives by training people, so they get involved and take action to stop traumatic bleeding.
“It’s so important to promote Stop the Bleed and CPR programs,” said Karen Moore, trauma manager. “It doesn’t matter how quickly EMS gets to a scene — bystanders will almost always be there first. A good Samaritan rendering aid in an emergency situation could be the difference between life and death for a trauma patient.”
This year’s theme of ‘Rising to the Challenge’ is particularly meaningful because it reminds us that EMS professionals are faced with so many challenges.
These professionals show up every day despite personal risk, hardship, and limited resources. The extraordinary environment in which they have operated during the past two years shows their resilience, resourcefulness, and readiness.
EMS Week dedicates each of six days to a specific theme, and first responders are encouraged to plan activities and events around these themes in their communities:
- Sunday, May 15: Health, Wellness and Resilience Day
- Monday, May 16: EMS Education Day
- Tuesday, May 17: EMS Safety Day
- Wednesday, May 18: EMS for Children Day
- Thursday, May 19: Save-A-Life Day (CPR & National Stop the Bleed Day)
- Friday, May 20: EMS Recognition Day
National Police Week
DHEC has two law enforcement units:
- Healthcare Quality, Bureau of Drug Control
- Environmental Affairs, Office of Law Enforcement
HQ Bureau of Drug Control
DHEC’s Bureau of Drug Control serves a regulatory role and provides enforcement of the South Carolina Controlled Substances Act. These agents are pharmacists who have undergone additional training through the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy to become state law enforcement officers, and the team is currently features 19 officers.
They conduct onsite inspections and audits of healthcare facilities and practitioners to make sure they are properly recording, storing, and handling controlled substances. They make recommendations and help these entities follow proper procedures in handling these medications. They also respond to complaints reported to DHEC that may indicate criminal activity or misuse of controlled substances, and when warranted, they make arrests.
“Each of you put your boots on every day and make this state a safer place to live,” said Eddie Black, Law Enforcement Training Coordinator with the Bureau. “I want to thank each of you for your service to this state and the community you serve. During Police week, we also want to thank those who support us and keep us safe — the administration staff, our general counsel, our director, and our families.”
Agents work closely with local law enforcement, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in their ongoing fight against the misuse of controlled substances.
EA Office of Law Enforcement
“It is the responsibility of the Office of Law Enforcement to ensure the health and safety of South Carolina citizens and our environment by enforcing the laws and regulations that keep us safe from those who would do intentional harm,” said Chief Michael Tempel with Environmental Quality Control Administration.
Officers and investigators assigned to the Office of Law Enforcement are certified by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy as Class 1 Police Officers commissioned by SLED with statewide jurisdiction to conduct investigations, carry firearms, make arrests, and execute and serve search warrants to gather evidence of these crimes. The team currently features 13 officers.
Special Investigators within the Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) investigate grossly negligent, willful, and knowing violations of state and federal environmental criminal laws. Frequently, other crimes are uncovered during the investigation of environmental crimes, and OCI works closely with state and federal prosecutors to bring those responsible for all these crimes to justice.
Shellfish Sanitation Program
The Shellfish Sanitation Program is a health and environmental protection program with three primary responsibilities:
- classification of the waters used for the growing and cultivating of molluscan shellfish,
- patrolling those areas that are determined to be unsuitable for the harvesting of shellfish, and
- certification and inspection of facilities that process anddistribute shellfish.
The team operates mostly in the coastal counties but does conduct operations as needed throughout the state.
These DHEC officers work closely with counterparts in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Please join us in thanking these officers for their efforts to help us reach our vision of healthy people living in healthy communities. To learn more about National Police Week, click here.
By the Numbers
Bureau of Drug Control
- The Bureau of Drug Control receives about 1,000 complaints a year about diverted controlled substances.
- Drug control agents opened 932 criminal investigations in 2021.
- The agents conducted 2,101 regulatory inspections and 126 controlled substance accountability audits.
- In the last five years, agents have inspected over 8,500 registrants of the Prescription Monitoring Program that tracks all scheduled II-IV controlled substances dispensed in the state.
- In the last five years, these inspectors conducted about 500 accountability audits.
Office of Law Enforcement
In 2021, the Office of Law Enforcement:
- Conducted 18 complex criminal investigations,
- Collected 5,501 water quality samples,
- Conducted 2,039 Law Enforcement Patrols,
- Issued 83 tickets and 83 dealer permits,
- Answered 71 intra-agency calls for assistance,
- Conducted 125 facility inspections, and
- Attended 21 court hearings.