In 1974, President Gerald Ford signed the original proclamation declaring November 3-10 as National EMS Week. The official week jumped around a lot in the beginning; first in November, then in September, finally settling for the 3rd week of May back in 1992.
This year's proclamation reads:
In every corner of our country, emergency medical services (EMS) practitioners are hard at work delivering hope and care to Americans in dire circumstances. In the face of chaos and tragedy, their steady hands provide vital, life-saving services, and their calm under pressure delivers comfort to neighbors in need. During Emergency Medical Services Week, we pause to offer our gratitude to these remarkable men and women, whose dedication is fundamental to our society's well-being.
In recent weeks, we have again seen the critical role EMS professionals play in times of crisis. When explosives went off at the Boston Marathon, EMS personnel rushed toward the blasts and, with selfless disregard for their own safety, immediately tended to the injured. Alongside countless volunteers and ordinary citizens, they demonstrated the very best of the American spirit — a spirit that EMS professionals display every day. My Administration remains dedicated to providing these courageous first responders, emergency medical technicians, 911 dispatchers, law enforcement officers, volunteers, and others throughout our health care system with the support they need to aid the American people in their darkest hours.
When Americans find themselves in times of crisis—from car accidents to national tragedies—our robust network of EMS professionals ensures that quality medical care is only moments away. This week, let us recommit to supporting EMS personnel and thanking them for their heroic contributions to our lives.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 19 through May 25, 2013, as Emergency Medical Services Week. I encourage all Americans to observe this occasion by sharing their support with their local EMS providers and taking steps to improve their personal safety and preparedness.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
~ BARACK OBAMA
We've come a long way in a little over thirty years, but we are still in the awkward adolescence of our profession, still full of hope and swagger and dreams, with no clear idea yet of what we want to grow up to be.
So for these seven days in May, we focus our efforts on telling the world how great we are. For some of us, our supervisors and administrators will show their appreciation by handing out a few awards, maybe a grilling burgers for us one day this week. The local Emergency Departments may hand out a few pens or other schwag, maybe buy pizzas for the crews…
… and of course, the night shift will get what pizza remnants are left behind by the day crews, ED nurses and housekeeping staff.
But hey, it's all good. It's a celebration of who we are, and the service we provide, even though, personally, I think we're doing it all wrong.
And at the end of the week, we go back to being the healthcare system's afterthought for the other 358 days of the year.
If it sounds like I'm bitter, I'm really not. I love my job, even when it doesn't love me back.
Tonight, I'll talk to a group of EMS people as part of their EMS week celebration. I'll try to be funny, and educational, and inspirational, and hopefully I'll pull it off. This one holds a little more pressure for me, because it's not that often people show up at an event specificially to listen to me.
But one things always guaranteed to banish the butterflies is the knowledge that you guys are my tribe. The privilege of hanging out with EMS people is what keeps me doing it. I'm just a simple medic who writes a blog. I have no answers, no profound truths to share. But I do understand brotherhood, and I am proud you are part of mine.
Happy EMS Week.