May 17-23 is the 46th annual National EMS Week. In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate Emergency medical services (EMS) practitioners and the important work they do in our nation’s communities.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), in partnership with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT), announces this year’s EMS Strong campaign theme: Ready today. Preparing for tomorrow.

Join us in saluting the men and women of the Deer-Grove, McFarland, Monona and Madison EMS departments.

This year’s National EMS Week presents a timely opportunity for communities to give special thanks and gratitude to all EMS practitioners who have been and continue to serve on the front lines of our nation’s war on the COVID-19 pandemic. EMS practitioners are responding to calls for help from patients with suspected or positively diagnosed coronavirus, in addition to 9-1-1 calls for patients with severe injuries and illness, such as cardiac arrests and strokes. In serving their patients, EMS practitioners run the risk of contracting COVID-19.

EMS is a vital element of our nation’s healthcare, public health and public safety systems. Every day, 24/7, in every community, EMS responds to patient calls for help when they have had an accident or are experiencing a medical emergency, including heart attack, difficulty breathing, a fall, drowning, stroke, drug overdose or acute illness. As strongly demonstrated during this pandemic, EMS is an integral component of our nation’s ability to respond to public health crises. EMS is a critical element of our nation’s disaster and mass casualty response, together with their colleagues in the fire service and law enforcement.

EMS also serves as a health care safety net by providing emergent, urgent and preventive medical care as the first step of the health care continuum. EMS fills health care gaps in communities with cost-effective, 24/7 medical care that assesses and navigates patients to the right care, in the right place and at the right time.

All residents are asked to recognize the heroic efforts of our paramedics and EMTs this EMS Week and to support the local EMS agencies throughout the year.

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