By Tom Kiurski
National Emergency Medical Services Week is recognized this year on May 14 – 20. This will be the thirty-third annual recognition of emergency service workers, sponsored by the American College of Emergency Physicians. For firefighters, here is yet another opportunity to help educate your citizens on the job you do and how they can be safer.
Many fire departments are very familiar with EMS Week. They have been using this as a springboard for their EMS education efforts for years. Many have health and safety fairs at their fire station. Some team up with ambulance services, hospitals, and clinics to help further inform their citizens. Fire departments may have a booth at a local mall to distribute health information, offer blood pressure checks, or cholesterol screens. Still others will visit schools, write a newspaper article for their local newspaper, or make a radio or cable television spot. The time to start planning is now.
The ACEP Web site (http://www.acep.org) has a number of ideas included on how to help promote EMS Week in your communities. It also has plenty of downloadable safety handouts that can be used. Surf the site for a while, and see how much information is available.
If you want to get creative, consider holding a “Teddy Bear and Doll Hospital” at your fire station. Kids can bring their favorite stuffed animal in for some friendly “first aid” to help deliver more miles of smiles for the children. Invite dispatchers to come and let children practice calling 911 for emergencies. Obviously, you will want to show off your EMS vehicles, and any “special” EMS vehicles (golf carts, bikes that are used for EMS, and so on) you may have for your audience.
Get together with some members of your fire department and brainstorm. If you want to start an event, give everyone some people to contact to see if they are interested in helping. If you have had an event already, see what can be done to make it even better this year. Your community will be glad you did.
Tom Kiurski is a lieutenant, a paramedic, and the director of fire safety education for Livonia (MI) Fire & Rescue. His book, Creating a Fire-Safe Community: A Guide for Fire Safety Educators (Fire Engineering, 1999) is a guide for bringing the safety message to all segments of the community efficiently and economically.