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Honoring Missouri EMS Workers During Trying Times

About 22,000 EMS workers are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for their own work-related injuries each year. (Adobe Stock)
About 22,000 EMS workers are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for their own work-related injuries each year. (Adobe Stock)
May 22, 2020

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The thousands of Missourians who work in Emergency Medical Services are being honored for the lifesaving care they provide.

Today is EMS Recognition Day, which wraps up National Emergency Medical Services Week. Christopher Samson, president-elect of the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians, explains some of these workers are now serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, while others are providing critical care for other emergency calls.

"Sometimes they are risking their lives, because the pre-hospital setting can be more dangerous than anywhere else," says Samson. "And when you're providing health care, they sometimes are entering the unknown and they don't really know what to expect on every call they go through."

Samson says personal safety precautions are especially important for EMS workers, and that wearing Personal Protective Equipment masks, gloves, and eye protection are essential for first responders during the crisis.

According to federal data, EMS workers have higher rates of work-related injuries than the general workforce, with 22,000 treated in emergency rooms for work-related injuries each year.

Paramedics, emergency medical dispatchers, firefighters, police officers and emergency nurses are among the professionals who work in Emergency Medical Services. Samson notes demand is higher for EMS workers in some areas.

"There's definitely been a decline in people working in the rural settings and with that, there's a need for more people," says Samson. "Some of that just also is the shift of people moving to bigger cities. And sometimes, some of the rural areas, they're volunteer agencies - so it can be hard sometimes to get people who want to volunteer for that type of work."

The theme for the week is "Ready Today. Preparing for Tomorrow."

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman/Dan Heyman, Public News Service - MO