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National EMS week more important than ever

David J. Schoenwetter

This week marks National Emergency Medical Services Week. It’s a yearly observation. But this year, the brave men and women on the front lines, especially first responders, deserve extra recognition.

The COVID-19 crisis has changed everything. People have been asked to stay at home and are reluctant to seek medical attention out of fear of being exposed to the virus — even though it’s perfectly safe and, in some cases, absolutely necessary to be seen by a physician. Hospitals and medical centers have every safeguard in place to protect patients and staff from exposure to the virus. There is no need to put off getting care. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what has been happening.

And when people put off getting care they need their conditions can worsen to the point of becoming emergencies. That’s when EMS teams get the call. Health-related emergencies don’t stop because of COVID-19. The virus is complicating everything, including how we at Geisinger observe EMS Week.

Typically, we host cookouts as a way of saying thanks to the EMS workers who serve our hospitals. There’s a lot of laughing, photos with friends and an overall sense of appreciation. The week culminates with tickets to a minor league baseball game at either the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRaiders’ or the Harrisburg Senators’ stadium. There, we celebrate our EMS Provider of the Year nominees and announce the award winner. This year, although we can’t gather together in the ways we’d like to, we still want to announce who wins this year’s recognition.

This year all first responders are winners.

With the amount of added stress that COVID-19 has introduced into the EMS community, we at Geisinger salute you all. You continue to show up every day. Your commitment to patient and community never wavers. Your selfless acts save lives.

EMS providers choose their professions because they want to help where they’re needed most. They respond to emergency scenes without hesitation. They never think twice about caring for or transporting a patient for further medical care. They are the real heroes every single day — with or without the added challenge of a global pandemic.

To each and every EMS provider out there, thank you for everything you do — this week and every week.

——

David J. Schoenwetter, Director, Division of EMS, Geisinger Health Medical Director, Geisinger Life Flight Emergency Medicine and EMS Physician, Geisinger Health.

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