Tag Archives: EMSWeek

How is Your EMSWeek?

Elsewhere on social media this week I have seen a call to “protest EMS Week 2023”. The logic suggests that the free meals and cheap trinkets are far less than the long-suffering and under-paid providers deserve. While I whole-heartedly agree, “we” have made EMS Week what it has become, not what it was intended.

The EMS Week 2022 proclamation reads “I call upon public officials, doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMS providers, and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities to honor our brave EMS workers and to pay tribute to the EMS providers who lost their lives in the line of duty.” I read nothing in there about free drink coosies and pizza. While there is nothing wrong with a “company BBQ” to get together outside the ambulance, we are wasting the opportunity we were given as a national spotlight. It feels good to bask in that glow for the moment, but we could be grabbing the microphone while we’re there.

EMS Week was designed with a daily focus on service, not just for accolades to passive providers, but as a chance at the microphone to tell our individual stories. Unlike our brothers and sisters in law enforcement and fire protection, we are generally not considered “essential” because the public has not yet seen our value. We can’t point the finger at them and say they need to wake up and look harder, it is up to us to proclaim and demonstrate that value. That doesn’t happen when our mouths are full of free food, only when we provide the free “food” of empowerment to others. So, why aren’t we teaching free classes that build community awareness?

Face it, we suck at coordinated political action. We can’t agree on educational requirements, collective bargaining, titles, or even whether you can provide good care from a red truck. Most of us still honor personal anecdote over research and blame volunteers or federal reimbursement for low pay. We all have different ideas to solve the mess. However, we do share a common power and it is in the personal interactions that we are best at demonstrating our medical knowledge and concern for the welfare of individuals. The same individuals that we are asking to fund us with their taxes.

We could be using this week in service above and beyond instead of using it as a chance to rest. Empowering the public is the best way to gain trust. Show what we know and ask for help in improving outcomes. We need their help to keep a cardiac arrest patient viable until we can arrive and resuscitate them. Make them a part of the team, not outsiders. Learn to install a car seat and help new parents prevent an accident. Build the relationships that use our strength when people are in distress and they will see us as a necessary component of the community, not an add-on.

Many of the pieces of the puzzle to fix EMS are beyond our immediate personal control, but if we actively make the community a partner, they will support us and even demand change on our behalf. Don’t protest the monster we created, tame it for our better purposes.


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Filed under Administration & Leadership, Command & Leadership, EMS Topics, Opinion, Training & Development

Using EMS Week 2014

Most of us don’t do what we do for the proverbial “pat on the back.”  In fact, you could even make a good argument that we don’t even really do it for the money.  So what does a week of national recognition mean for us? We know we can’t relax and stop doing our job. And even though the appreciation is nice, it isn’t the real value of this week for any of us.  Think about it, for these five remaining days, the press (who normally refers to us as “ambulance drivers”) is looking directly at us for heartwarming stories. They don’t honestly care what the topic is for the week, they just want to fill airtime with appropriate stories. For this brief time, it is our chance to accomplish what we normally only complain about the whole rest of year – “how can we communicate what we really do to the public?”

Helping parents fit child safety seats in their car or doing a blood pressure screening at the mall is great. Teaching an extra hands-only CPR class to the public is wonderful. Reuniting rescuers with the rescued is certainly heartwarming. There is even a website dedicated to EMS Week Ideas here. But when we have the nearly undivided attention of the media, we need to do more than deliver the expected stories. When asked about why we got in to this field, we should do more than just reminiscence about Johnny and Roy in the good old days of “Emergency!” This is our chance to talk about how our “profession” (and I suggest you use that word liberally in any conversation) as “paramedics” (to include EMTs) is evolving from the public safety model to integrated mobile healthcare. This is your chance to engage in politics and promote the Field EMS bill that will recognize and standardize our work as well as provide a foundation for appropriate financial support.

It is tempting, when a microphone is placed in our face, to wax about our own personal career or personal motivations (as expected), but give that reporter a real “news” story instead. EMS needs the public to know what we really do, how they can best leverage us, and the political as well as financial challenges we face. Don’t compare yourself to police and firefighters – describe how we are not legally similar or even considered critical staff in most places. And certainly don’t post a video of yourself “dancing in the cab”, but instead tell a story of the challenges your organization faces.  And if you don’t know what the most significant problems are that face your future, take the chance this week learn.

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Filed under Administration & Leadership, EMS Health & Safety, EMS Topics, Funding & Staffing, News, Social Media, Technology & Communications, Training & Development