Last Updated on April 28, 2021 by Maggie Sutton
Is there anything more frightening than standing by helplessly as a loved one struggles with a medical emergency? Fortunately, the feeling of panic and helplessness is often short-lived because help arrives quickly in the form of emergency medical services. Emergency Medical Service, or EMS, professionals are the front-line heroes of healthcare, and we are privileged to celebrate them and say thank you during National Emergency Medical Services Week, the third week of May each year.
The weeklong celebration of our EMS professionals began in 1974, thanks to the American College of Emergency Physicians. Today, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians joins with the American College of Emergency Physicians in sponsoring the National Emergency Medical Services Week each year.
The EMS heroes in our communities respond all day, every day, and to all kinds of medical emergencies. These highly trained professionals bring their skill and compassion with them as they assist people in medical crisis. We might not give a second thought to the fact that life-saving medical care is just a phone call away. Without the training and service of EMS professionals, that wouldn’t be the case. We are so lucky and thankful to have our EMS professionals!
There are many fun ways to recognize and say thank you for the impact that EMS makes on our lives during National Emergency Services Week. Some excellent suggestions include:
- Host a community reception to connect medical emergency survivors and EMS personnel
- Ask your city or state Government to enact a proclamation honoring local EMS
- Participate in the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride
- Deliver a thank you note to your local EMS organization
- Place yellow, white, and blue ribbons on trees in honor of EMS
Help Lighten the Load for EMS
One of the best ways to show EMS professionals that we appreciate everything that they do for us is to take some simple steps that make it easier for them to care for us. Let’s honor our emergency medical service professionals by committing to these life-saving actions:
- If you’re driving, pull your vehicle to the side of the road when emergency vehicles approach. If you can’t move onto the edge of the street, remember to stop in place so that the emergency vehicles can maneuver around your car. It’s the law, and it can mean that help arrives on time to save a life.
- Put a helmet on your head when you ride a bicycle or motorcycle. Strapping a properly fitted helmet on your head before you go for a spin significantly reduces the chance that you’ll suffer a severe head injury in a crash.
- Use your seatbelt every time that you are in a moving vehicle. Studies show that when people wear their seatbelts, they are 50% less likely to suffer life-threatening injuries in a crash. Also, don’t forget to make sure that child safety seats are installed correctly in your car. You may also want to ensure that you have a first aid kit in your car should you need it.
- Invest in a medical alert bracelet or medical identification card if you have chronic illness or diseases that your EMS responder should know about. These life-saving bracelets and cards contain crucial health information that tells the EMS responders that you suffer from a severe medical condition such as diabetes or epilepsy, should you be unable to tell them yourself. Having this information can alter the course of care your EMS professional will administer. These resources also typically have emergency contact information for a loved one.
- Download the emergency medical identification apps on your smartphone. For example, the Apple Health app allows you to complete a medical identification form that’s available on the lock screen.
- Store an EpiPen within easy reach of you at all times if your physician prescribes one. In addition to keeping an EpiPen available at all times, take the time to train family members, babysitters, teachers, and athletic coaches on how to use the EpiPen in an emergency.
- Teach children how to dial 911 in an emergency. Those heartwarming news stories where the small child called for help and saved a parent are the result of people taking the time to teach young children to dial 911. Even very young children can learn to tell an operator their name and address. Experts recommend that you call a family member to let your child practice giving the appropriate information over the phone. Be sure that your children understand that 911 is only for emergencies.
- Mark your house number so that it is visible from the street. In the event of an emergency, it is critical that the EMS can locate your house quickly. It’s a terrific idea to drive by your house at different times of the day to double check that the street number is apparent.
- Complete a CPR or first aid course. Do you know what to do if someone suffers a cardiac or breathing emergency? Protect the people you care about by learning how to render medical assistance until trained help arrives on the scene. There are American Red Cross certified CPR and first aid courses in communities all across the United States, and you can locate one near you through their website.
Lastly, we are privileged to live in a nation with an advanced emergency medical services system. Countless lives are saved each year due to the professional care provided by these healthcare heroes. Let’s all take advantage of National Emergency Services Week to thank the EMS professionals in our communities for their service.
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