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What Are You Doing for EMS Week?


     This year marks the 35th Annual National EMS Week, which will be held May 18–24. Created by the American College of Emergency Physicians, this year's theme is "EMS: Your Life Is Our Mission." So what are you or your agency doing to celebrate this event?

     According to FDNY EMS Chief John Peruggia, "FDNY has taken a serious approach to ensuring that EMS Week is a successful opportunity for us to recognize the outstanding work of our EMS professionals."

     Each year, the EMS section of FDNY develops a specific EMS Week slogan, which is utilized for a public service announcement campaign. Members of the agency create graphics supporting the slogan and images of EMS personnel in action. These are printed as posters and displayed throughout the city. Additionally, the EMS section conducts the annual EMS Second Chance Survivor Bruncheon. Cardiac arrest victims are reunited with the EMS personnel who delivered their care. Throughout the five boroughs of New York, EMT/paramedic competitions are held with prizes going to winning teams. Each EMS station also conducts open houses, hosts CPR demonstrations and provides barbecues for all the watches.

     On the other side of the United States, Honolulu EMS celebrates EMS Week Hawaiian style. At the Honolulu Hale—the home of the mayor and city council—the mayor presents a proclamation declaring EMS Week. Selected patients are reunited with the EMS crews credited with saving them, and if the service has any new vehicles, they receive a Hawaiian blessing to cleanse the vehicle and make them ready for the lifesaving missions they are about to embark on.

     In Mecklenburg County (NC) EMS schedules patient and EMS crew reunions. The service also provides members with a small gift, according to EMS Director Richard Dean, typically a new gear bag or windbreaker with the service's logo on it. Lastly, on two separate days, so all the crews are able to attend, the headquarters staff provides a cookout for all their members, with the director and administrative staff doing the cooking and serving.

     Charleston County (SC) EMS sponsors a poster coloring contest—What EMS Means To Me—for elementary school children. The Charleston County EMS crews collect the posters from their area schools and vote on the top three overall posters from each school. In turn, the winners from each service area are brought to EMS HQ, where a vote is held and the top three posters selected. The three winners are awarded a ride to school in a Charleston County EMS ambulance. Columbia is the state capital, and an EMS parade is held through downtown, finishing up at a local park where a ceremony honors EMS members who lost their lives over the preceding year while attempting to assist others.

     ACEP's website,, is filled with suggestions for celebrating EMS Week, including sample PSAs and press releases that can be issued to local media. The site has an EMS Week planning kit with downloadable logos for your service's website and much more. ACEP has created pins with this year's theme that your service can purchase for your members. Positive Promotions ( has an entire line of EMS Week items, including pins on a nice thank-you card. Each year, my service purchases pins to issue to the members of our service, as well as the members of the Ouray Board of County Commissioners, elected officials and department heads.

     These are just some ideas for celebrating EMS Week. For more, visit

     Norm Rooker is chief of Ouray County EMS, CO. He can be contacted at

     In 1973, The EMS Act was created and passed both the House and Senate by popular majority and was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. At a time of fiscal conservatism and efforts to reduce the national debt, the EMS Act was one of the very few new initiatives to pass.

     After President Nixon's resignation, the reins of power were taken over by President Gerald Ford, a fiscal conservative. Ford, while recognizing the value of the EMS Act, in an attempt to balance the federal budget, vetoed appropriations to the Department of Health, Education & Welfare that funded the programs created by the EMS Act.

     Members of ACEP rallied and lobbied Congress and the Senate to have the funds reinstated to the federal budget. They were so successful that President Ford gracefully accepted the override of his veto. In acknowledgement of the popularity of modern EMS the president created the first National EMS Week, November 3–10, 1974.

IAFF Report to Examine Injuries
     Having examined the factors that contribute to line-of-duty deaths in the fire service, researchers with the International Association of Fire Fighters have turned their attention to injuries and will soon release a related report on on-the-job injury risk factors.

     The two-part project, funded by the U.S. Fire Administration, is aimed at helping departments develop effective risk-management programs to keep their people safe in an era of challenges such as terrorism, hazmat, natural disasters, specialized rescue and more.

     The project's first phase involved analyzing six years' worth of data (2000–05) concerning those killed on the job, identifying contributing factors to their deaths, and developing recommendations to help departments reduce the risks those factors pose. That process culminated in a report, Contributing Factors to Firefighter Line of Duty Death in the United States, released in late 2006. It is available at

     Investigators then turned their attention to injuries. Due to a scarcity of good injury data sources, they had to recruit 14 major fire/EMS agencies to contribute two years' worth of data by way of a standardized template. This method made it difficult to extrapolate results, says lead author Lori Moore-Merrell, DrPh, MPH, but provided a solid sample of 3,500 injuries that will permit random analysis.

     In the death report, contributing factors identified by the authors were grouped into four clusters:

  • Incident command, training, communications, SOPs and pre-incident planning;
  • Vehicles, PPE, equipment failure and human error;
  • Private vehicles, accidents and civilian error;
  • Staffing/crew size, SOGs and health/fitness/wellness.

     For more:
     —From staff

     Sixteen states had riders committed to the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride by mid February, and organizers invited more to join them.

     This year's ride culminates in Roanoke, VA, on May 23, preceding the National EMS Memorial Service on May 24. Legs depart from New York City (on May 17) and Lexington, KY (May 18). An additional one-day ride will go from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, LA, on May 10.

     The goals of the ride are to honor fallen EMS providers and raise public awareness about line-of-duty deaths and disabilities in the EMS field. For more, see
     —Nat'l. EMS Memorial Bike Ride

TRAINING TO HELP ID troubled vets
     Emergency responders in Massachusetts will receive special training to help them identify and assist troubled veterans of U.S. military engagements.

     Soldiers returning from combat are often vulnerable to risk-taking behaviors and can be easily startled by loud noises and other situations that can represent danger in a military environment. Concerned that such behavior might be misinterpreted by police or other responders, groups led by the service organization Soldier On will work to train emergency providers to differentiate combat veterans from those with problems such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

     Veterans' advocates fear public-safety personnel will encounter more troubled vets as they return from current deployments. A survey of 1,000 Vietnam combat veterans showed that almost a quarter were arrested at some point after returning home. —AP

     Iowa hospitals are the nation's quickest at delivering emergency medical care, a recent study shows. Press Ganey Associates, an Indiana-based company that measures patient satisfaction, found the average emergency visit in the state took 2 hours and 18 minutes, compared to a national average of 3:42. Also fast: Nebraska (2:26), South Dakota (2:28), Vermont (2:32) and Wisconsin (2:34). The slowest: Arizona (4:57), Maryland (4:07), Utah (4:04), New York (3:58) and Florida (3:57). —

     Video laryngoscope maker Verathon is offering a free grant-writing kit for EMS and other healthcare providers. The kit contains information to help services identify and pursue government grants and other sources of funding for equipment and supplies.

     For more information or to get a kit, call 800/331-2313 or e-mail —Verathon

DHS Unveils National Response Framework
     The National Response Framework went into effect March 22, supplanting the National Response Plan as the nation's blueprint for responding to major incidents.

     Released by the Department of Homeland Security in January, the NRF sets forth the nation's guiding principles for a unified cross-sector response to natural disasters and other emergencies, including acts of terrorism. It focuses on response and short-term recovery, and specifies the doctrines, principles and architecture to be used. It is intended to be more streamlined and user-friendly than the NRP.

     "The National Response Framework is an essential tool for emergency managers at all levels," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said. "It helps define the roles, responsibilities and relationships critical to effective emergency planning, preparedness and response to any emergency or disaster. Today's release reflects the culmination of many months of hard work and collaboration within the nation's emergency management community."

     Major concepts of the document include public/private partnerships; a "bottom-up" approach that promotes management from the lowest jurisdictional level; scalability for all sizes and kinds of incidents; unified command and clear understanding of roles and responsibilities; and an emphasis on planning and preparedness.

     The NRF's publication followed a lengthy process of outreach and input from key stakeholders. Public participants generated almost 5,700 comments during the document's development.

     Its publication will be supplemented by Emergency Support Function Annexes and Support Annexes posted at the NRF Resource Center ( Annex documents will provide the concept of operations, procedures and structures for achieving response directives for NRF partners.

     A nationwide training and exercise program will follow, DHS says, helping to embed the NRF into the nation's preparedness and response systems.
     —Dept. of Homeland Security

HOMELAND SECURITY FUNDING leaves EMS short, study says
     A report from the Department of Homeland Security confirms what many in EMS have long suspected: When it comes to federal preparedness grant funding, EMS isn't getting its share.

     The report, Congressional Report on Support for Emergency Medical Services Provided Through the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Grants and Training, examined fiscal year 2005 awards under the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) and Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), and awards from FY2002–05 under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. It found that:

  • Of more than $1.6 billion in FY2005 HSGP funding excluding the UASI program, slightly more than $50 million went to EMS—just 3%.
  • Of $854.7 million in UASI funds that year, EMS received $12.1 million, or 1.4%.
  • Of more than $2.4 billion in AFG funding disbursed over four years, EMS got $144.6 million—less than 6%.

     In total, the office examined $7,885,700,000 worth of funding. Of this, EMS' share was $339,900,000, or around 4.3%.
     —DHS Office of Grants and Training

     The Department of Transportation's Emergency Response Guidebook is being updated this year for the first time since 2004. For more, see ... Following a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in January, ambulance maker American LaFrance announced a plan in February to pay off most of the $200 million in debt it has reportedly accrued since splitting from former parent company Freightliner ... The first week of June will be National CPR and AED Awareness Week per a resolution passed by Congress in late 2007 ... A specialty license plate being developed by the California Emergency Medical Services Authority will honor EMS professionals in the state. Funds raised will go to benefit EMS in California ... It was 40 years ago on February 16 that America's first 9-1-1 call was made, and the National Emergency Number Association marked the occasion with a salute to the progress made in the ensuing four decades ... A new study from the Centers for Disease Control found that only 31% of women and 22% of men knew the signals of a potential heart attack. Study authors suggest that more public education and communication campaigns are needed to increase awareness ... The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of EMS has announced the launch of, which provides the latest news from the office and on federal EMS initiatives ... The National EMS Museum Foundation announced the election of three new trustees to fill vacant positions that followed a trio of resignations. Dr. Richard Judd, Paul W. Smith and Richard Narad will join a current group that includes EMS Magazine publisher Scott Cravens ... Advocates for EMS has elected its officers for 2008 and announced in February that Bruce Walz, PhD, NREMT-P, will serve as the organization's president this year. Others elected were Kurt Krumperman, MS, NREMT-P, president-elect; Ted Delbridge, MD, MPH, treasurer; and Joe Grafft, MS, secretary.

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