Use social media to make every week EMS Week

We can recognize our responders and celebrate their victories every day using the tools of social media


EMS Week, which occurs every May, has gone from a 1974 Presidential proclamation designed to raise awareness of the EMS service, to a nationwide feast of corn syrup-drenched donuts and espresso-laced coffee provided to responders by their agencies and hospitals to show their appreciation for the hard work and agency victories accomplished during the year.

But what about the other 51 weeks of the year? As Kelly Grayson pointed out very eloquently in his column, responders should be advocating for the profession year round … and they shouldn't be alone in doing so.

While it isn't necessarily possible to serve breakfast every morning of the year or hold award banquets every Saturday night, we can still recognize our responders and celebrate their victories using widely accessible social media best practices.

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Deputy Fire Chief posted when EMS Director Pat Frost recognized responders in front of the Board of Supervisors (Photo/courtesy https://twitter.com/CON1101)
The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Deputy Fire Chief posted when EMS Director Pat Frost recognized responders in front of the Board of Supervisors (Photo/courtesy https://twitter.com/CON1101)

I know some agency leaders are going to say they recognize their responders for the work they do not just during EMS Week, but all year long.

To those leaders, I say prove it. Be transparent and lead by example with something that you can actually point to as evidence, instead of anecdotes told at conferences. Isn't that what EMS is moving towards anyway, evidence-based medicine?

Here are four simple ways paramedic chiefs and EMS agencies can generate recognize and advocate for providers using the current tools available through social media:

1. Recognize EMS responders on your blog

When you receive a commendation, one of your crews goes above and beyond, or there is a positive outcome for a patient thanks to the hard work of your responders, recognize them in a timely blog post. While you’re thanking the crew for their job well done, be sure to ask a few questions to help craft your blog post into a compelling narrative.

2. Recognize your responders on Instagram

Everyone loves pictures. So after you’ve thanked the crew and engaged them in a subtle interview, take that camera out of your pocket and snap their photo for use on the blog and in your Instagram stories.

3. Recognize your responders on Facebook

Besides sharing the link to the blog post with all of your subscribers, take the opportunity to upload the photo to Facebook with a brief description, and be sure to tag your responders. Their family and friends will see the photo in their newsfeeds and the photo will show up on their profile page, spreading the positive news beyond your agency to people who have an interest in what you do.

Do you have a Responder of the Month award? Swap out their picture for your agency logo as the profile image during the month they are honored. This will not only honor your responder, but will help your community connect with you on a more intimate level as well.

4. Spread the good news on Twitter 

Share links to those blog posts and photos on Twitter using the hashtag created by Dan Limmer #EMSGoodNews to spread the word throughout the EMS community at large

Unlike other organizations using social media, we don’t have tasty cookies, the coolest apps or resort-lined sandy beaches for our communities to stroll down. What we do have are the actions and successes of our responders. By sharing these deeds publicly, we build both a sense of pride within the organization and value with the public. This value, in turn, can help us spread the advocacy messages for an improved EMS.

Being proud of your responders and promoting EMS needs to move beyond the third week of May. Like the services we provide, this mission should be fulfilled 24/7/365. Social media can help turn that idea into a reality.

This article was originally posted June 9, 2011. It has been updated.

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