By Allison G. S. Knox
May 16-22, 2021 is National EMS Week. Originally started by President Gerald Ford, the week follows important recognition weeks like National Police Week and National Nurse’s Week. International Firefighters Day is also May 4 — an important day that starts a month of appreciation for those in public safety roles. National EMS Week is especially important this year as the United States is still working on recovering from COVID-19, working to build more mechanisms for resilience in communities while returning communities to what they were prior to the pandemic.
This year, National EMS Week brings forth several important policy initiatives and problems that are existing throughout the United States. For decades, EMS experts have known about the numerous problems existing with budgets and the numerous budgetary restraints that plague municipalities. One of these issues has been the lack of Emergency Medical Services resources available in rural communities. This issue has been brought back to the forefront of the discussion again as articles published by The New York Times and NBC News highlight just how serious a crisis this has been.
While the issues with rural communities have brought Emergency Medical Services back to the forefront of the political discussions, the coronavirus has also illuminated numerous resource concerns. In essence, COVID-19 has brought the issues EMS has had to the forefront of the discussion because like many other areas of society, COVID-19 has illuminated numerous problems that need to be worked out. Issues like healthcare and emergency management disparities have become important points of discussion once again. Where Emergency Medical Services is concerned, these policy issues are particularly complicated and touch numerous aspects of society.
In essence, there are a number of Emergency Medical Services policy issues that are currently in discussion. But, bringing these issues into the discussion only starts the conversation. EMS is a complicated issue area that touches so much of society and as a result, it will take a lot of conversation, a lot of innovative thinking and a lot of policy entrepreneurs to come up with realistic solutions to correct these issues. National EMS Week is part of this important initiative to correct the myriad problems seen in Emergency Medical Services.