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Last updated: May 26. 2013 9:48PM - 1004 Views

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Salute to EMS providers for dedication, compassion


Few people realize that modern emergency medical services has only been around for the last 43 years. In the first half of the 20th century, many ambulance services were operated by community funeral homes. The funeral home attendants had little first aid training. The funeral homes were in the ambulance business simply because their vehicles were large enough to accommodate the long stretchers.


After World War II, a number of civilian rescue squads and ambulance services began to emerge in the United States. Most of the rescue personnel, while well-intentioned, were untrained, poorly equipped, unorganized and unsophisticated. The systems were unregulated. There were no minimal training standards for ambulance personnel and no training programs existed for basic first aid.


In 1966, the National Academy of Sciences published a report that quantified the magnitude of traffic-related death and disability while vividly describing the deficiencies in pre-hospital care in the United States. The “white paper” made a number of recommendations regarding ambulance systems, including a call for ambulance standards, state-level policies and regulations, and adopting methodology for providing consistent ambulance services at the local level. Also in 1966, the Highway Traffic Safety Act established the U.S. Department of Transportation and awarded that agency the authority and responsibility to improve EMS education, including the development and implementation of training standards. States were encouraged to develop state EMS offices with part of the costs paid by the Highway Safety Programs. These two historic milestones spearheaded the evolution of EMS in the United States.


Today, EMTs are part of almost every community in the United States, and thanks to the proliferation of advanced life support from coast-to-coast, most Americans can easily identify paramedics and the important role they play in the health and well being of our local communities.


Thousands of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals stand ready to respond in times of crisis – day or night. These professionals take on many different roles, from paramedics, emergency medical technicians and first responders to fire fighters and police officers. But all have one thing in common – they are dedicated to saving lives and comforting people who are at their most vulnerable point in life. That is why it’s important to honor their commitment and courage.


The partnership among EMS professionals, hospitals, emergency physicians and public health providers grows stronger each day. At Geisinger, we take pride in the high quality of care and collaboration demonstrated by our emergency physicians and specialists working in hospitals and their counterparts in EMS. This partnership is crucial in helping keep our communities safe.


Last week during National EMS Week and throughout the year, Geisinger salutes the courage, compassion and extraordinary skill of our EMS providers, who selflessly put their own lives on hold to respond to the emergency needs of their friends, neighbors and loved ones each and every day.


David J. Schoenwetter, D.O., F.A.C.E.P.

Director, Emergency Medical Services

Geisinger Health System

Jack Lasky

Coordinator, Emergency Medical Services

Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center


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