History of EMS Week

Excerpted from EMS in the United States: Fragmented Past, Future of Opportunity by Donnie Woodyard, Jr.

Since its inception in 1974, EMS Week has stood as an annual tribute to the tireless efforts and unwavering dedication of Emergency Medical Services practitioners. Celebrated during the third week of May, this week underlines the pivotal role these professionals play in saving lives, preserving public health and safety, and supporting their communities.

The origins of EMS Week date back to 1974 when President Gerald Ford established the first "National Emergency Medical Services Week”.93 The goal was to recognize the vital work of EMS practitioners and raise public awareness about EMS. Today, EMS Week is celebrated annually with various events and activities that honor the achievements of EMS practitioners, highlight the importance of EMS in healthcare, and increase awareness of the challenges and issues faced by the EMS community.

One key aspect of EMS Week is the opportunity to express appreciation for the dedication, expertise, and sacrifices made by EMS practitioners, who serve on the frontlines of healthcare. Often risking personal safety and wellbeing to care for others, they contribute significantly to the well-being of individuals and communities. EMS Week helps raise awareness and inform the public about the importance of EMS. By showcasing the critical role EMS plays in responding to emergencies, providing medical care, and transporting patients to appropriate
healthcare facilities, the national EMS week is often used to encourage individuals to learn basic life-saving skills like CPR and first aid, and to be prepared for emergencies.

Additionally, EMS Week facilitates collaboration and engagement between EMS agencies, policy makers, organizations, and communities. By fostering partnerships with healthcare professionals, public safety agencies, local governments, schools, businesses, and community organizations, EMS Week promotes community involvement and raises awareness of challenges and opportunities in the field of EMS.

Donnie Woodyard Jr., MAML, NRP, has an extensive three-decade-long career in the field of Emergency Medical Services. Previously, Donnie served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of State EMS Officials and was an ex-officio member of the Colorado Emergency Medical Practice Advisory Council. He also served in state and federal roles such as the State EMS Director for Louisiana, the Chief of the Emergency Medical & Trauma Services Branch for the State of Colorado and the Chief Operating Officer for the National Registry of EMTs.

For more information, and to view many of the historic records referenced in Donnie Woodyard, Jr.’s book, visit www.EMS-History.com