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EMS Week Planner Offers Valuable Guidance

Preparations are under way for 2005 EMS Week celebrations, and this year’s EMS Week Planning Guide takes a fresh look at how to promote and raise the profile of EMS in your community.

The EMS Week Planner (previously known as the EMS Week Kit) has just been released by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), along with numerous federal, association and corporate sponsors.

“EMS is a vital part of every community, but it often competes with the broader focus on fire, police, public health and homeland security,” writes ACEP President Robert E. Suter, DO, in the introduction to the Planner. “All of us associated with EMS must do our part in educating our communities about EMS. This year we celebrate EMS with the three Rs that describe EMS: ready, responsive and reliable. EMS is ready because we are available anywhere and any time. We are responsive in all weather conditions, for all hazards and at all kinds of medical emergencies. And EMS is reliable, serving the public with well-trained and courteous paid and volunteer professionals.”

The EMS Week Planner is a 48-page, full- color, magazine-style guidebook that offers advice, tools and products for assisting communities and organizations in promoting the EMS message to the public, the media, elected officials and the medical community. It also includes a special section on honoring EMS personnel and a special report celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the first grants awarded by the federal Emergency Medical Services for Children program.

A catalog section has a wide assortment of products featuring the 2005 EMS Week logo. Within the Planner are color-coded sections designed to assist EMS organizations in taking their message to specific stakeholders.

In reaching out to the general public, for example, the Planner advises that you “help the public understand who EMS is and what EMS does by taking the time to explain how EMS is integrated into the healthcare system and how local communities have options about the level of EMS care they offer. People want to know how much ambulance transport will cost them.”

The Planner offers suggestions on how to answer these questions in your community, provides a handout on frequently asked EMS questions and offers 10 steps for hosting a successful open house.

Recognizing that the path to the public is often through the media, this year’s Planner provides extensive help in managing your relationship with the media.

“Telling your story to reporters is a very effective way to promote your EMS agency,” instructs the Planner.

Included are directions on how to promote yourself to the media, a handout for the media on the basics of EMS (what is EMS and the difference between ALS and BLS), advice from an expert on managing the media in a crisis, tips for handling media interviews and guides for writing an effective press release.

“Establishing relationships is the key to successfully raising your profile with elected officials,” states the Planner. “Legislators have busy schedules and face myriad issues that need attention. To make your voice heard, you must keep your message simple, concise and to-the-point.”

Drawing on the expertise of an EMS lobbyist, the Planner offers a variety of tips on how to raise EMS’ profile with elected officials. It also provides guidance on preparing written information for elected officials and their staffers and how to organize a ride-along for elected officials.

Acknowledging that EMS is often seen as “a system that floats on the periphery of healthcare instead of being a vital part of it,” this year’s Planner provides guidance and tips on integrating EMS in the medical community. Further, this section addresses some of the misunderstandings that often arise between EMS, emergency departments and nursing homes, and profiles the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Linkages Project that is helping to integrate EMS and public health.

A bold section in this year’s Planner is about EMS personnel. On a page about how to honor and reward EMS personnel, consultant Mike Taigman explains the important difference between reward and reinforcement, and several field providers weigh in on whether or not you should give “hero” awards. A hilarious yet poignant page by EMS humorist and cartoonist Steve Berry graphically addresses “medic self-care,” and two additional pages help organizations recruit new workers. This section also includes a hand-out page on why EMS is a great career choice.

While EMS Week has been designated for May 15–21, a calendar of events in the Planner spans both April and May to illustrate that the promotion of EMS is not just a one-week affair but an ongoing effort. The EMS Week Planner is a valuable tool that can help you do it right. The Planner is available free of charge from your state EMS office and will be available online at www.ACEP.org/emsweek.

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