Happy EMS Week


Since nothing much has changed since last year, or the year before, or even the year before that, I’ll just do an encore presentation of my EMS Week post from last year. Since I’m not working n the field I don’t see the emails from my former employer telling us about all the wonderful stuff the hospitals will be doing for us. Except if you work on the night shift, all you get is the empty boxes the food for the other two shifts came in.

This is the easiest post of the year to write, sadly. Why is it so easy? Because EMS Week is predictably repetitive. A half hearted, half assed, attempt by management and that of various hospitals to show their “appreciation” for what the field staff does.

I’m going to re run, excuse me, give an encor performance of my 2009 post. I don’t have to change one word because it’s still the same old thing when it comes to EMS Week. It’s like “Groundhog Day”, only without Andie MacDowell. I wonder if it’s different in other systems?

As predictable as seasonal allergies, ants in the pantry, or pot holes in New England, once again EMS Week is here.

Our overseers partners at the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) have a fun filled week of activities planned out for us. The ubiquitous and painful “blood pressure” clinics, demonstrations of equipment and what we do for the kiddies, and other activities for us to do on our “down time”. As opposed to relaxing on our down time, because we can’t have that.

Oh, and outreach to the elderly community, because none of them are familiar with EMS, right? Except that they are our best customers, and generally the most appreciative. Some of them know our jobs better than we do.

Here’s a radical idea. How about thanking the EMS crews for their hard work? Maybe take a week off from sending nag-a-grams about billing, documentation, response times, and all the other administrivia that consumes your brains.

Hospital Emergency Departments will join in the fun by offering food at, or more often just outside, the ambulance bay. Nothing says “we value you” more than stale bagels, donuts, and coffee on a cheap folding table. Unless it’s lunch time in which case it’s cold, greasy pizza on a cheap folding table. So much for heart healthy meals. Along with the cheesey gifts.

Of course since EMS is a Twenty-Four hour a day profession, these delightful morsels are only available for the day shift crews, with a little bit left over for the evening crews. If you happen to work the overnight shift, you don’t even exist, so forget it. Unless you consider cleaning up the wrappings and assorted trash left over from the day shift’s good times a celebration.

The folks over at the American Nurses Association are better at this, although there are no doubt nurses who feel differently. They minimize additional (non compensated) work for nurses and instead focus on celebrating nurses and nursing.

Just one more way in which the nursing profession outdoes the EMS trade in taking care of their interests.

EMS Week has as certain “Look at me, look at me, I’m important.” feel to it, an air of desperately seeking attention, if you will. The other 51 weeks of the year, we’re necessary, but not really important. Except of course to the small percentage of people who really do need an ambulance. Then, for a time, we’re the most important people in the world. Or at least in their world. They expect us to be there because that’s our job. I’m not sure that we should make a big deal about it, but it seems someone thinks we should.

EMS Week, meh. Give me Festivus any day.

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


  1. That’s unfortunate. Our trauma center made sure there were enough goodies for everyone last year. Even at 2am.

    • That would seem to be the exception. From what I hear from my friends around the country, what I describe is pretty much the norm. They are all pretty cynical about EMS Week.

      • Oh to be sure, when I first started there was nothing left at any hospital past 10am, and the only day it was out was Monday. One ER gave out tshirts one year, but if you didn’t work that day, oh well.

        One hospital is holding a sit-down breakfast this week for any EMS providers who want to show up, on-duty or not.

        Personally I’d settle for a smile and a “Happy EMS Week” from the staff. Doesn’t seem like most of them notice though, it’s the supervisory staff that set up the goodies.

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