-Posted by Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alexander Garza
This week we celebrate and honor the federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal Emergency Medical Service (EMS) practitioners serving communities all across the country. Operating at the crossroads of health care, public health, and public safety, EMS plays a vital role in ensuring that we are prepared for the health consequences from any potential threats facing our nation. As a former paramedic, I know firsthand the dedication, commitment, and selfless sacrifice of our medical first responders.
EMS providers have demanding jobs. They are asked to be first responders in a wide range of circumstances. In addition to daily medical response, the EMS community must be prepared to respond with care and efficiency at a moment’s notice to natural disasters and other threats. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes the critical response functions performed by pre-hospital providers across the country. Here at the Office of Health Affairs (OHA), we work every day to enhance medical first responder capabilities.
Over the past year, a number of OHA initiatives have been launched to integrate the EMS community into the broader spectrum of preparedness activities including: developing human trafficking awareness training as part of the DHS Blue Campaign; developing an integrated strategy to collaborate with Canadian EMS, emergency management and others as part of the Beyond the Border Initiative; and partnering with the U.S. Fire Administration to publish Funding Alternatives for Emergency Medical and Fire Services and a Handbook for EMS Medical Directors.
Within DHS, we continue to operate a robust EMS System comprised of over 3,500 medical first responders. This week, I encourage everyone to acknowledge the service and hard work of their local EMS provider to make our nation a safer place.