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Home > EMS Products > Consulting, Management and Legal Services
May 16, 2008
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The Ambulance Driver's Perspective
by Kelly Grayson

Top Ten Signs It’s EMS Week

By Kelly Grayson

Editor's note: To celebrate prehospital providers from across the nation, EMS1 will bring you exclusive coverage every day this week on a number of current issues, centered around the theme, "EMS: Your Life is our Mission." Please visit EMS1's National EMS Week special section for full coverage.

Back in 1973, President Gerald Ford signed the official proclamation designating an official EMS Week, in part to recognize the branch of public safety that most citizens prefer to ignore the other 358 days of the year. Personally, as many airplane steps as Ford has stumbled down, I think he was just trying to stay on our good side — just in case.

Every year, when the pollen count in the South is at its highest, and the ambient temperature begins to resemble equatorial Africa, I pause to think, ''Hey, that's the third sunburned drunk we've picked up from the river in a week! EMS Week must be right around the corner!''

However, I realize that not everyone has my finely tuned internal calendar, so I have listed for you Kelly's Top Ten Signs It's EMS Week. Be sure to pass it on to all your friends. And your colleagues. And your colleagues' friends. Heck, spam everybody in your inbox. After all, it's EMS Week!

So, without further ado, you can always tell it's EMS Week when:

The local hospitals treat you to homemade Sloppy Joes…made from the leftover barbecue sauce from Hospital Week and the leftover hamburger patties from Nurse's Week. My advice: don't even try the potato salad. It doesn't keep well.
Sumdood takes a break from creating havoc and mayhem for one week. Of course, it's only because he's gearing up for the hell that is Memorial Day weekend, but what do we care?
All the homeless people angling for a 72-hour psychiatric admission — and the free food and air conditioning that comes with it — stop claiming to be Jesus for one week and instead claim to be Johnny Gage or Roy DeSoto.
When you pull up behind someone in traffic on an emergency response, and chirp your siren at them, they roll down the window and let you know that you're Number One! Oh, wait a minute. They do that all the time anyway.
Adoring patients let you know how much they support your profession by loudly proclaiming, ''I pay your salary!'' Oh, wait a minute. They do that all the time, too.
The local nursing home bakes you a cake…but forgets about it for a week and only calls you after it has turned stale. And all of them blame it on the ''day shift.''
Women call you at odd hours of the night and breathe heavily into the phone. Of course, it's only 87-year-old Agnes calling because the humidity and high pollen count has exacerbated her emphysema, but at least she'll be glad to see you.
Local municipalities announce that, for one week only, they will treat the drinking water with Haldol, Versed and Narcan instead of fluoride…because you need the break.
SSM systems announce that for one week, they will suspend street corner posting. All crews are entitled to get out of their rigs, stretch their legs, sit down and relax…provided it's at the corner of 8th and Elm, during off-peak hours, and the management of Burger King doesn't complain about you hanging out in one of their booths.
And the number one sign it's EMS Week is… all your patients make your job easier by providing you with a list detailing their medical history and prescription medications. Of course, it's written in crayon on a crumpled piece of spiral notebook paper and lists things like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Demonic Possession, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and allergies to everything but Demerol, Dilaudid, Morphine and Fentanyl…but it's the thought that counts, right?


About the author

Kelly Grayson, NREMT-P, CCEMT-P, is a critical care paramedic in Louisiana. He has spent the past 18 years as a field paramedic, critical care transport paramedic, field supervisor and educator. He is a former president of the Louisiana EMS Instructor Society and board member of the LA Association of Nationally Registered EMTs.

He is a frequent EMS conference speaker and contributor to various EMS training texts, and is the author of the popular blog A Day In the Life of an Ambulance Driver. The paperback version of Kelly's book is available at booksellers nationwide. You can follow him on Twitter (@AmboDriver) or Facebook (, or email him at

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