National EMS Week

Dear Editor,

National Emergency Medical Services week will be celebrated May 16-22 this year. In 1974 President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine’s “front line.” So what has changed in 47 years?

I would like to take the time to ask everyone, what would you do if we didn’t have EMS to respond to your emergency? Would you jump in the car and drive yourself or have a family member or friend take you to the emergency room? How long would that take you with the I-70 construction today, traffic lights, detours, weather conditions and other issues that might pop up? What kind of equipment do you have in your vehicle? I haven’t seen a vehicle yet with oxygen or suctioning equipment, or even an IV drawer. My opinion is that an ambulance is a big part of the health care field. And we would have many more people dying in the field before they even arrived at the Emergency Room without ambulances. But we could have the best and most expensive ambulances in the world and it would mean nothing. The best equipment inside these ambulances would mean nothing.

It’s the people working inside the ambulances that we must give thanks to. The EMTs and Paramedics shouldn’t be thanked just the week of May 16-22, but each and every day we must thank them for the sacrifices they make. I have a job where I’m lucky to work with these people day after day and get to know them very well. Many are fathers, grandfathers, mothers, grandmothers and even great-grandparents. These are special people who don’t do it for the money or glory, but to help their communities and neighbors.

These past 14 months have brought new challenges to the EMS world with the coronavirus outbreak. EMTs and Paramedics who always did wear gloves must now add face shields, safety glasses, masks, gowns and shoe covers to their wardrobe when treating a possible coronavirus patient, and then spend time disinfecting their squads after each transport. And hoping that they don’t carry something back to their fire station or squad room.Then they must be cautious not to carry anything to family and friends. Many of these same people are the ones knocking at your door asking you to buy a raffle ticket, spaghetti dinner ticket, or any other donation for fundraisers that they must have to operate. The coronavirus is hitting everyone hard financially. And it will also hit the volunteer EMS and fire agencies just as hard. Carnivals, chicken dinners, bingos, dances, reverse raffles, quarter auctions, and even hall rentals for parties and weddings will all be canceled or postponed to a later date.

Remember these volunteers when things get better. Make a donation. Don’t wait for a raffle ticket to come to your door. If it can’t be a financial donation, then write them a letter. Let them know how important they are to your community. Drop off a plate of cookies or a cake. Send pizza to one of their trainings or meeting nights.

Show them you appreciate them, because when they close their doors because of lack of funding, they won’t be back.

I would like to thank each and every one of the EMTs and Paramedics in the Ohio Valley for the job they do each and every day for you, and me. How will you show your appreciation to them?

Jeff S. Gazdik

EMS Coordinator

WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital



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