Now entering its fifth decade, National EMS week honors the dedication of medical personnel who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine’s front line. This week, EMS professionals are holding events to raise awareness and celebrate the everyday service provided by EMS organizations across the country.

The theme of National EMS Week spotlights a year-round campaign—EMS Strong—offered through the partnership between the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and National Association of EMTs (NAEMT):

EMS Strong is what draws a special few together to do incredibly important work, often under difficult circumstances, and many times with little thanks.

The campaign promotes greater visibility of the training and sacrifice that EMS and health professionals invest in providing emergency medical care.

Throughout the week, EMS professionals will celebrate that commitment through special events, such as challenging people to learn CPR, sponsoring lectures on public safety and injury prevention, and hosting summits to reunite survivors with the men and women who saved their lives. In New York, the Empire State Building will glow in yellow, white and blue to recognize EMS professionals and their mission to be the first on the scene to provide medical treatment.

EMS training keeps professional standards high
Over 800,000 credentialed EMS professionals are employed by public and private emergency service providers in the United States. These organizations include ambulance services, fire departments, public safety or police departments, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and the military. Paramedics may respond by ambulance, rescue vehicle, or helicopter.

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In 2009, there were over 36 million events that required EMS response producing over 28 million transports. Response times vary by community, but an accepted target is to respond within eight minutes for 90 percent of all emergency calls.

To achieve these high standards of performance, EMS professionals commit themselves to lifelong learning. Advancement from an EMR to a paramedic demands an increasing dedication to self-improvement, achieved through earning degrees and completing many hours of recertification classes.

“EMS involves training and preparation for unexpected situations,” explained former American College of Emergency Physicians president Alex Rosenau. “You have to keep your skills fresh, be flexible and be collaborative with your fellow medics, other healthcare providers, physicians and the families you interact with.”

Most importantly, good candidates bring something to the table that they won’t get from a classroom.

“We want people who like people,” said Rosenau.