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Always, In Service – EMS Week 2017

EMS Week seems to be plugging right along, as usual, with a few nice things here and there.  New York Buildings lit up in Orange, Blue and White for example, or a day when ambulances are on display infront of City Hall like in San Francisco.

Coast to coast EMS Week reminds us that we remain an afterthought.

National EMS Organizations are only now catching up with 5-6 year old concepts while we on the rigs struggle to keep going day to day.  Happy with table scraps we seem content to uphold the status quo while listening to the same presenters at the same conferences speak on the same topics.  I’m not immune, but I do try to change things up.

This year’s EMS Week slogan is “Always in Service” and I hated it just as much as the last ones.  It brings a connotation that we are always there to answer the call…Always ready to jump into danger.

The modern state of EMS is anything but.

A better, more honest slogan would have been EMS Week 2017: Any unit available to take a code 2 fall?

I decided to add a comma to this year’s slogan, let me explain why.

Friend of the blog Scott Kier penned an article earlier this week that had me sitting in my chair for a good 15 minutes trying to figure out how he so clearly stated what I have been trying to say for years.  Read it HERE and come back.

You are not this job.

You are not this Calling.

You are a person with dreams and desires and hopes and fears and whatever else you cram into your waking hours.  If EMS falls in there somewhere…cool.  If you’re here for the guts and the glory I still have the same bad news for you: There is divorce, depression and substance abuse in your future.

If you’re here because one time, early on in all this thing we call EMS you made someone smile and that ignited a fire inside your soul…cool.

We are not always in service.  When heading home and I see a car on it’s side in the trees, people pulling over and I have no gear…I keep driving.  What am I going to do without my gear?  Get hurt?  Maybe make a difference?  I’ve pulled up to too many scenes when on duty to see how folks like that can cause more harm than good.  Sure I stop sometimes but not always.

MC and I discussed this topic on a recent Crossover Podcast after he pulled over simply because no one else was.


I want to add a comma to this year’s EMS Week slogan because I see it being embodied by so many for all the wrong reasons.  I want you to have a life outside EMS, just like Scott encourages and I want to take his theme and expand on it.

I want you to be a different person when you are at home.  I want you to be that big Baseball fan, gourmet chef or scrap booking king.  I need you as a little league coach, PTA board member and fund raiser.

When we hit AOR on the rig, I need you Always, in Service.

In Service to your partner, crew and company.

In Service to the community we protect.

In Service to make someone’s bad day better, whether it be getting your ass handed to you with 15 runs in 12 hours or 5 take homes on the BLS car.

In Service to those who pick up the phone because they don’t know who else to call.

In Service to those who need us just as much as those who don’t, whether they know it or not.


Always.  Every call for service.


When we log off and get back to the yard, decompress and go back to being you.

Volunteer?  I need the same.  From the time you pager drops that tone to the time you’re back home, back at work and back with the family I need 100%. Always.


It is easy to throw a slogan on a bumper sticker or a T-shirt but not until we start to live our lives without EMS will we realize just how important quality service is for our communities.


Always, in Service,



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One Comment

  1. Peter L May 26, 2017 8:21 am

    The explosion you hear is my head. You and Scott have articulated an important issue that sneaks up on all of us. We formally used an aluminum can analogy- we get used up and thrown away, maybe recycled if we were lucky. But this is even more insidious, absorbed into something that is important but detrimental in the long run.
    Be different, I like the sound of that. Thanks for the provocation.

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