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Celebrate, support our EMS workers

We should be thanking our health care workers and first responders every day, but as we enter National EMS Week (May 15-21), I want to take the opportunity to offer appreciation and praise, personally and on behalf of my colleagues at UPMC in North Central Pa., to these often-unsung heroes in our community.

This year’s theme — This is EMS: Rising to the Challenge — recognizes EMS practitioners and the important work they do every single day.

This theme is very fitting given the current climate of EMS care and how much things have changed over the last few years.

In the throws of the pandemic, EMS practitioners were on the frontlines.

They answered the call and often did so with much uncertainty of what lie ahead.

They were prepared, professional, and rose to every challenge.

And now, as much of the world starts to pivot away from the crisis phase and pauses to catch its breath, they remain ready and vigilant for whatever is next.

In 2021, the EMS system in Pennsylvania responded to a little over 2.4 million requests — the majority of which were emergency responses to incident scenes.

EMS practitioners are always being asked to do more with less and yet they continue to rise to the occasion without faltering. Career or volunteer, it doesn’t matter, as they are all professionals when the tones drop.

EMS practitioners, thank you for all that you do.

You are the most present example of health care in our communities.

You are the ones out on the streets and in homes every day making a difference.

As the demand for EMS services in our communities continues to exponentially grow, I encourage everyone to take the time to inquire on how they can help support their local EMS agencies.

Many of these agencies are looking for volunteers and you can help make a difference.

Additionally, I ask everyone to consider taking a CPR, first aid, or Stop the Bleed course. These courses can often be completed in a few hours but can help you make a difference as a bystander and potentially even save a life.

Jeffrey Myers, DO, is Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Medical Director for UPMC of North Central Pennsylvania.

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