‘Honoring our past, forging our future’: National EMS Week celebrates 50 years

An ambulance is ready to transport patients at Indianapolis EMS.

CLINTON, Miss. — Folks across the country will celebrate the 50th anniversary of National EMS Week May 19-25, a chance to show gratitude for emergency medical technicians and paramedics who save lives every day.

In Indiana, emergency medical services workers can earn several certification levels: emergency medical responder, emergency medical technician, advanced EMT and paramedic.

“The 2024 EMS Week theme, ‘Honoring Our Past, Forging Our Future,’ speaks to our essential role in providing frontline medical care to communities everywhere,” said Susan Bailey, president of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

“We are determined to overcome workforce and operational obstacles so every patient receives appropriate care or direction for the best care option.”

EMS provides a full spectrum of pre-hospital and out-of-hospital care, including emergent, urgent and preventive care.

“We have advanced our profession through mobile integrated health and community paramedicine, COVID-19 testing and treatment and providing flu vaccines in the home,” Bailey said.

“We collaborate with hospitals, hospices, urgent care centers and behavioral health centers to give patients the best care in their time of need.”

EMS History

1973: The EMS Systems Act provides federal funding to establish regional EMS systems throughout the country. Many EMS personnel are experienced medics returning from Vietnam.

1979: The first 911 call was made in the late 1960s. By 1979, one-quarter of the U.S. population has access to it. Access grows rapidly in the 1980s.

1983: Dr. Norman McSwain, a trauma surgeon and EMS champion from Tulane University School of Medicine, develops Prehospital Trauma Life Support.

1984: Congress establishes the EMS for Children program to focus on care for pediatric patients.

1988: Dr. Jeff Clawson develops the Medical Priority Dispatch System to triage 911 call urgency and establishes the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

1997: Thirty-six states permitted EMTs to use AEDs in 1994. By 1997, nearly all states did.

2001: The 9/11 terrorist attacks kill 343 FDNY firefighters and eight EMTs and paramedics.

2004: Pit crew CPR pioneered at University of Arizona.

2010: EMS established as a medical subspecialty for emergency physicians.

2015: NAEMT launches Tactical Emergency Casualty Care to prepare EMS to respond to the growing number of active shooters.

2020: EMS practitioners are celebrated as heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians

Indiana EMS

By The Numbers:

• 2,000 — Approximate number of times EMS provides medical care to Hoosiers each day.

• 2,000 — Number of emergency ambulances.

• 24,000 — Number of emergency medical personnel.

• 800 — Number or EMS provider agencies in the state.

Source: Indiana Department of Homeland Security

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor