GREENSBORO, N.C. — President Donald Trump proclaimed May 17 through May 23 as National Emergency Medical Services Week. It's all about honoring all of the EMS workers who readily provide lifesaving care to the public. President Trump is encouraging Americans to support EMS professionals through appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
"These incredible professionals respond to daily calls for urgent assistance and work tirelessly to serve their communities," said President Trump. "Most recently, they have made significant contributions and immeasurable sacrifices during our Nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most daunting and demanding challenges the country has ever faced."
In North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper also proclaimed May 19 as EMS for Children Day. The purpose is to honor those who provide pediatric emergency care and are specially trained to address the unique needs of children.
"This year, Emergency Medical Services Week falls in the middle of an unprecedented time. As we battle COVID-19, your work is even more critical to our state," said Governor Cooper. "Thank you for keeping North Carolina safe through this pandemic and in our everyday lives."
Research shows there are more than 800,000 emergency medical service workers in the U.S., including about 40,000 EMS workers in North Carolina. EMS workers include: first responders, emergency medical technicians (EMT), emergency medical dispatchers, paramedics, and others whose titles may not always suggest their EMS duties. For example, firefighters and nurses may provide pre-hospital emergency care as part of their routine job duties.
The CDC says EMS workers face many potential job hazards, including:
- Lifting patients and equipment
- Treating patients with infectious illnesses
- Handling hazardous chemical and body substances
- Participating in the emergency transport of patients in ground and air vehicles
Guilford County EMS is keeping safety a top priority for EMS workers and the public. That includes keeping staff informed about the latest COVID-19 information, taking temperatures of staff daily, cleaning and disinfecting frequently, and ensuring the use of PPE.
"We're coming into contact with lots of sick people every day, said Chris Wilson, Manager of Guilford Coutny EMS. "Some of those are COVID-19 positive patients. We want to make sure that we take care of our employees and notify them if we have had a potential exposure and make sure we get them the proper testing and proper care."
Most EMS personnel work a fixed 12-hour schedule. However, Guilford County EMS is adding alternatives such as a 10 hour and 14 hours basis to meet the needs of the public. Crews respond to anywhere from two calls per shift in rural areas, to as many as 15 calls per shift in urban areas.