On November 4th, 1974, President Gerald Ford declared and instituted the first “Emergency Medical Services Week”. The President wrote in the Proclamation: “Let us affirm that the first year of this national legislation is only the beginning of our effort to improve this part of our total health care system so that no individual in this country will lack help when he needs it.”
In times of need, whether small incidents or large scale disasters, EMS has been there to protect our citizens and treat their medical emergencies, in any and all conditions. The goal being, as President Ford noted, that “No individual in this county will lack help when they needs it.” EMS has stepped up across the United States, in order to provide high quality, emergency medical services to their communities, often times without the sufficient support needed to ensure sustainability. While EMS week is typically celebrated by taking a few moments to reflect on and thank our EMS Professionals, this year I encourage each of you to read the Senate Resolution #6 report (here) outlining the peril that EMS is in, in the Commonwealth.
In order to be “Always in Service”, EMS needs the support of its communities, local and state officials to ensure that it is able to meet the ever increasing demand for its services. President Ford noted that his proclamation “is only the beginning of our effort to improve this part of our total health care system…”. What are we doing today to ensure that EMS in the United States remains an effective and clinically sounds part of our health care system? With increasing demands and rising costs coupled with dwindling reimbursement for agencies, EMS is in serious jeopardy with regards to its long-term sustainability. Unfortunately this is not news, EMS officials have known this reality for years, and have worked hard to make it known to those that can help, our elected officials. Reports such as SR60 and SR6 are clear, EMS needs your help, it needs your support. In order for us to be here for you, we need you to be here for us.
Help support EMS, Remember more than just the heroic acts of our Paramedics and EMTs, remember that EMS needs long term strategic assistance to stay “Always in Service”. Help us to encourage our elected leaders to develop long term strategies to address the issues that closing services across the Commonwealth.