Having been in EMS since 1990 I can certainly tell you I have seen numerous EMS Week celebrations come and go.

Did you know EMS week owes its founding to the American College of Emergency Physicians? In 1974, ACEP asked former President Gerald R. Ford to declare November 3-10 National Emergency Medical Services Week. Since then, ACEP has moved the annual observance numerous times, finally landing on the third week in May. This move provided a distinction between EMS and Fire Prevention week.

EMS has always been a part of my life, from the EMT-M class I took in January 1990 to becoming an RN in 2008. I have done almost everything in EMS a person could do, volunteer EMT, Paramedic, Critical Care Education, ED RN, you name it.

Let’s discuss ideally what EMS providers actually want most for EMS Week. This year, let’s dismiss all of the usual tchotchkes, mugs, t-shirts, hot dogs, pens and flash lights. I can honestly say after 25+ years, I’ve gotten it all and am a bit tired of it. The ED sponsored pizza, while a very kind gesture, always seems to go uneaten for a variety of reasons.

The real issues

Let’s face it, we know we are under paid and over worked. Although I am always grateful for the sentiment people have for us as a profession during EMS week I’d prefer recognition more frequently, even every day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being ungrateful, the hot dogs and pens are appreciated. But let’s focus on what matters most for pre-hospital professionals – better pay, working conditions, and meaningful education.

Which brings me to the area I can influence most. Not the everyday education, you know card certs PHTLS, ITLS, APLS, PEPP, and EVDT etc. I want something more. I want continuing education that excites me. That embraces my desire to improve EMS and helps us all to change and improve the care we deliver to our patients. To change the protocols that guide us in the care we provide. Basically, what I am asking for is a seat at the table, minus the pens and hots dogs. Let’s start with a better educational foundation, a voice in the care we provide and deliver better care to those who rely on us to care for their loved ones.