This year marks the 44th EMS Week celebration for our industry. EMS Week was first authorized on November 4, 1974, by President Gerald R. Ford. When I began my EMS career in 1992 the theme for EMS Week was “It Starts With You.” Poignant indeed since I was starting out.
Many themes for this vital week have been inspirational but this year’s, “Stronger Together” made me reflect on our industry and my career as a pre-hospital provider for the past 25 plus years.
The themes over the past several years have morphed from an operations mantra to one of simple caring. The 2015 idea of “EMS Strong” was the turning point of looking deeper into what it means to be a provider and caregiver, rather than that of a public safety response entity. The past themes of “Your Life is Our Mission” (2008) and “Anytime, Anywhere. We’ll Be There” (2010) are still relevant to the service we provide every day, however, this year’s theme is more important than ever.
When I started in EMS, gloves not always worn, blood on your uniform shirt was cool and supraglottic airways were for the less than ”skilled” paramedic. We were also pretty good at “eating our young.” Mental health was almost never discussed, and if you had a problem, you just weren’t tough enough. How far we have come. If these historical norms seem foreign to you, ask any senior member with the service you work alongside. They will have plenty of stories to share with you. Trust me.
We know that PTSD and suicide are real challenges that we face as an industry.
We know that both natural and man-made disasters are on the rise. We know that none of our organizations can meet these crises alone. We know. We know the challenges before us and that we can only succeed if we rely on each other. Not just in an operational sense but more of a human one.
How we care for each other as EMS professionals is what “Stronger Together” means.
For a comprehensive look at the historical EMS Week themes, go to www.emssurveyteam.com/emsweekthemes, graciously provided by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Robert N. Farrell, MA, EMT-P, I/C
Director of Customer Experience
MHR – EMS Survey Team