Friday, May 23, 2008

Emory Department of Emergency Medicine Joins ACEP Recognizing EMS Professionals

The Emory Department of Emergency Medicine joins the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) in recognizing the local, regional and national emergency medical services (EMS) providers who are often the first responders in a traumatic accident or medical emergency.

Emergency medical service providers include paramedics, emergency medical technicians, first responders, fire fighters and police. ACEP kicked off its 35th annual Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week May 18 with events in communities across the nation, as well as several national events organized around the theme "Your Life is Our Mission."

"Around one million EMS professionals provide lifesaving care to people in their communities when every minute counts, before they even get to the emergency department," says Dr. Linda Lawrence, president of ACEP. "This year's theme, 'Your Life is Our Mission' illustrates the selflessness and commitment these extraordinary people bring to their jobs every hour of every day of the year. For this they deserve our recognition and thanks."

According to Katherine Heilpern, MD, chair of the Emory University Department of Emergency Medicine, EMS resources in a steadily growing Fulton County are continually under pressure to respond to a growing population, and recent funding cutbacks have made the challenge even greater.

"EMS professionals are literally the chain link that connects an individual involved in a traumatic accident or health event, such as a heart attack, and the lifesaving medical resources that await at a hospital or trauma center," says Heilpern. "Not only are these men and women involved in a frequently dangerous - and always high pressure - line of work, they are also faced with serving a constantly growing population, challenged by cuts in government funding and shrinking resources in terms of manpower to meet the needs of millions of citizens."

Two recent events nationally highlight the risk and danger EMS professionals face. In Wisconsin, a medical helicopter dropped off a patient and then crashed shortly after it took off on its return flight to Madison, killing the surgeon, nurse and pilot on board.

In Illinois, police are still searching for three suspects in the shooting of an ambulance worker who was transporting one of two brothers also wounded in a shooting incident.

"The challenges and dangers are real each day these men and women leave home in order to save others," says Heilpern. "We are grateful for these professionals and this special week affords us an opportunity to publicly recognize and thank them."

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