By Angel MedFlight Contributor
They are dispatchers, first responders, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. When there’s a medical emergency, they almost always get the first call. They provide medical care at the scene and en route to the hospital. They are Emergency Medical Services professionals and we at Angel MedFlight wish to recognize these daily heroes as part of National Emergency Medical Services Week, which runs May 19-25.
The Federal Interagency Committee for EMS says as of 2011 there were over 800,000 licensed or certified EMS workers in the United States and of those, about half were volunteers. These dedicated individuals are a part of an intricate EMS system which includes private and public agencies, various medical facilities such as trauma centers and hospitals, and administrators and government officials.
The concept of a National EMS Week began with President Ford declaring November 3-10, 1974 as the first “National Emergency Medical Services Week.” The American College of Emergency Physicians was instrumental in establishing the annual observance which continued for four more years and was then reinstituted by ACEP in 1982. The observance dates were moved around some, but in 1992 EMS Week found its home in the third week of May.
Patrick Elmes is the Manager of EMS and Disaster Preparedness with the ACEP and he tells Angel MedFlight that the college began collecting and distributing ideas and information for EMS Week in the early 1980’s. “Today 25,000 EMS Week Planning Guides are distributed free of charge to EMS services, fire departments, rescue squads, volunteer groups, and emergency departments across the country, ” says Elmes.
The ACEP provides staff and financial support for the production and distribution of EMS Week promotional materials as a public service.
There are a number events planned round the country to celebrate this year’s EMS Week, the theme of which is “One Mission One Team.” Elmes says there will be drunk driving awareness programs, safety demonstrations, blood pressure screenings, child safety seat clinics, EMS open houses and many more activities. There will also be proclamations at the civic, county, state and national levels, plus special observances for those who lost their lives on duty.
There are a number of challenges facing EMS today and the ACEP says chief among them is the advent and development of community paramedicine and mobile integrated healthcare programs. Elmes says another issue EMS faces is the exploration of evidence based research on improving patient care regarding spinal immobilization. Other challenges facing EMS are improving and standardizing education and of course, funding.
As we honor EMS personnel this week, Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance recognizes our own critical care flight nurses and paramedics and registered nurses for their commitment to quality patient care.