I wrote this post for publishing in my community’s local newspaper. You may wish to send it to yours as well. It’s a generic “EMS Needs Your Support” piece. It might work for any time of the year, but it’s customized for EMS week 2010.
“Anytime. Anywhere. We’ll Be There” National EMS Week 2010
National Emergency Medical Services Week or “EMS Week” 2010 is coming up this year on May 16th through May 22nd. It is a time to think about the people whom our communities rely on to help us when the unthinkable happens. Every day in our community and in communities like ours throughout the nation, emergencies happen to people just like you and I. These local emergencies may not get the press coverage that the big disasters happening thousands of miles away receive, but to our friends and neighbors these day-to-day emergencies can be just as dangerous and deadly. We rely upon Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics to respond and make a difference in our lives. No matter the need, no matter the call, EMS stands ready to serve you.
EMS is at once the most iconic and visible part of the emergency healthcare system. It is also probably the most misunderstood. Almost everyone can recognize an ambulance and most people have an idea of its purpose. However people rarely give thought to the capabilities and education of the people working inside of it. EMTs and Paramedics have long since evolved from their humble beginnings as simply a fast ride to the hospital. Today’s ambulances are highly specialized mobile intensive care units and today’s EMT attends hundreds of hours of classroom education for their initial certification. Paramedics, the highest level of field medical providers, attend thousands of hours of initial education and internship time and must be masters of acute care. Not only that, but EMTs and Paramedics alike must recertify their license every few years and must attend hundreds more hours of continuing education to achieve their recertification. This training covers all aspects of acute emergency care and is quite intense and rigorous.
Today’s EMS system, with Paramedics and EMTs working in tandem, brings the first hour of Emergency Room care to the patient’s side no matter where the patient may be. EMS focuses upon providing immediate stabilizing care that stops or slows the progression of the acute disease process or damage from any injury, protects the patient from further aggravation of the condition, and impacts their long-term continuity of care. This care reduces Mortality, or loss of life, as well as Morbidity, or future quality of life. Calling 911 during a medical emergency produces better outcomes than does simply driving a seriously ill or injured person to a hospital. Early intervention in cases such as a heart attack or stroke can mean the difference between those conditions leading to long-term disability or a full recovery.
Every community in our region has emergency ambulance services available at a moment’s notice that are simply a 911 call away. Some communities provide Basic Life Support ambulances, with EMT level personnel. These ambulances are supported by Advanced Life Support ambulances and units staffed by Paramedics that can respond with the Basic ambulances to provide advanced level Paramedic care. It is important for people within our community to ask questions and get to know the people responding to their calls for help. Learn about their capabilities and their needs. Pitch in and help where you can. EMS people have always been the absolute masters of doing anything with nothing but we are desperately in need of the support and attention of the communities we serve. It is common for community members to not think about their local ambulance services until the time that they need their services however, EMS needs your support. Americans have always been massively charitable towards disasters happening thousands of miles away when images from them flood our television screens and newspapers, but rarely does that same charity flow to their local emergency responders who are taking care of our friends and neighbors. Your local EMS service needs your support to maintain high-levels of lifesaving service in your own communities. You can directly impact the service that your local EMS can give to your friends, your neighbors, your loved-ones, and even yourself.
Get informed, get involved, pitch in, and help us help you.
The official theme for EMS week 2010 is “Anytime. Anywhere. We’ll Be There.” EMS has made the commitment to be there for you. This week, please think about how you can be there for EMS. The impact of your support for EMS translates directly back into improving the lives of the people in our communities. As the saying goes, the life you save may be your own.
Chris Kaiser NREMT-P