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Accolades for All

May 25th marked the end of another EMS Week, and with it a year’s worth of testimonials by patients, employers, and the general public. That’s nice, but the excesses of those seven days remind me of the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, when even the most ravenous among us concede, Enough with the turkey already!

Feasting on accolades has become a spring tradition not only for EMS but for related industries as well. The trolling for acknowledgment begins with National Physicians Week at the end of March. Why then? Because March 30th is National Doctor’s Day, which used to be enough time for MDs “to be recognized by their patients, celebrated by their peers, and take pride [sic] in the hard work they do”—the official justification for the now-weeklong revelry. Physician, hail thyself.

If you’re someone who doubles down on clinical nobility by charitably caring for others, you just missed National Volunteer Week—supposedly the third week of April but observed from the 7th through the 13th in 2019. Hey, it’s not National Mathematician Week. And never mind about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

If working for a living at a PSAP console is your thing, don’t take vacation the second full week of April; you’ll miss National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. The rest of us might have to dial 9-1-1 just to congratulate you when you get back. On second thought, that’s a terrible idea—one that could make me the poster child for National Unemployed Columnists Week.

That brings us to the end of April—just in time for National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. If there’s one group that never seems to get enough credit, it’s the folks who analyze precious bodily fluids. When I was growing up in the ’50s, I didn’t have a single friend whose goal in life was to check for occult bleeding. I’m not even sure those tests had been invented yet.

May began with International Firefighters’ Day on the 4th. I’ve always respected firefighters—never more so than when I learned they needed only one day of thanks. As a member of an industry that seeks a full week of contrived reassurance, I felt shame until I heard about October’s Fire Prevention Week, commemorating the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Hmm, if EMS rebranded its jamboree as Death Prevention Week…

Next up was National Nurses Week, May 6–12, which ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday every year. That shows just how consistent nurses can be—as good a reason as any to applaud them. Except NurseFest started 13 days before EMS Week, so now they not only make more money than us, they get cheesy employee gifts before us. Not fair.

It could be worse: Nursing assistants don’t have their week until June 13–20. By then the rest of us are tired of all the appreciation.

Mike Rubin is a paramedic in Nashville and a member of EMS World’s editorial advisory board. Contact him at

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