Some Thoughts about EMS Week

I am writing this post today because I feel that I have been inexcusably quiet during EMS Week this year.  I do not want anyone out there to think that I am “anti-EMS Week” if you will.  Personally, I feel that we all deserve recognition year round, not just during one week out of the year.  We contribute to society every day, so why not recognize us more often, right?

Throughout my years in EMS I have participated in a lot of EMS Week events.  I have been to banquets, had breakfasts, lunches, even dinners provided to me by employers and organizations to say “thank you” for another hard year’s work.  This year, I am with a different organization and my experience this year was a bit different and enlightening.

Sure, we had a cookout, which was great.  Nothing like burgers and ‘dogs on a warm pre-summer day, but this past Monday, I got to dress up in my Class-A’s and have my mother pin my badge on me during an appointment and graduation ceremony put on every year for the new paramedics to join the organization.  It was a great experience, complete with bagpipes, drums, a color guard, and plenty of speakers, and I took a great deal of pride to have the honor to stand up there, but there was another group there that I think this event meant more to.

The real winners Monday night were our families.  While the organization was saying, “thank you for being one of our paramedics” to us, the more important message was the “thank you” they were extending to our families for the time we sacrifice away from them.  They are the ones who have to put up with the time we spend working during holidays, and birthdays, and anniversaries.  I feel sometimes that our loved ones deserve the biggest pat on the back, so let this be my “THANK YOU” to all of you.

It got me thinking about what other missed opportunities we, as an industry, have during each and every annual EMS Week and I can’t help but feel like taking the opportunity to educate the public is probably the biggest one.  For example, there is such a push for compression only CPR by the general public that maybe we should seize an opportunity to further our cause and make our jobs a little bit easier.

This year, American Medical Response did just that.  They led the way for the AMR World CPR Challenge.  This past Wednesday, all over the country CPR instructors from all over the country put on free clinics to teach the public how to do compressions only CPR.  I have heard word that nationally, almost 60,000 people were trained, and from what I have been told that is a conservative estimate.

I have also heard that around 3,000 of those who were trained were as a result of the efforts of my old division in Springfield, MA.  Once again, they prove their worth to the community.  Here is the video from a story done (ironically enough) by WGGB News 40 in Springfield featuring Springfield’s CES coordinator Jim Welcome.

Way to go, guys.  Great job!

While today might be the last day of EMS Week, don’t lose sight of all of the great things that go on out there.  Sure, one can argue that it is our job, but damn it it’s a heroic one.  Great things happen every day.  Don’t sit back and wait for someone to pat your colleagues on the back for their accomplishments, when you see something great, take the time to recognize it yourself, and let them know that what they did made a difference for someone.  Who knows, maybe if enough people do that, the attitude and the concept will become contagious.