30+ ways to celebrate EMS Week

Inspiring ways to recognize providers’ contributions, educate the community and recruit the next generation

This article was reproduced with permission from EMS STRONG.

Produced by the American College of American Physicians (ACEP), in partnership with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT), EMS STRONG is a campaign designed to celebrate, unite and inspire the people of EMS 365 days a year. EMS1 is a proud sponsor of EMS STRONG.

EMS STRONG means we take pride in always being ready. Ready to go at any time. Ready to help whoever needs us. Ready to face whatever situation awaits us on the scene. EMS STRONG means preparing for the next emergency, the next call from a member of our community in distress. 

Learn more about the campaign at https://emsweek.org/.

National EMS Week is the perfect time to honor your local EMS professionals and promote awareness of their everyday service to the public. Here are 30 inspiring ways that your organization can celebrate EMS Week. 

1. Schedule stress reduction and mental illness education

Take care of your crew by educating them about stress reduction and mental illness to reduce the stigma that prevents EMS providers from asking for help when they need it. 

2. Hold an EMS safety course

Evaluate your EMS service’s safety data and utilize it to employ safety education programs tailored to the needs of your service and the community. An example is NAEMT’s EMS Safety course, which teaches students how to protect themselves and their patients while on the job. It promotes a culture of safety and helps reduce the number of on-the-job fatalities and injuries. 

3. Host a servant leadership day

Plan a special event where agency management serve personnel. One idea: managers wash employees’ cars or serve a meal to employees. 

4. Set up a rider alert program

Get involved in existing programs such as Rider Alert, which provides free identification data cards that help first responders provide rapid and accurate medical assistance to motorcyclists involved in serious accidents.

5. Participate in the Worldwide CPR Challenge

Across the United States and overseas, people participate in the CPR Worldwide Challenge. Plan events surrounding this challenge to train individuals, organizations, businesses, bystanders or students in your community. You could even reach out to beachgoers, grocery shoppers or sports spectators. Set up simple training using a manikin and teach bystanders compression-only CPR. Find more information on the ACEP website. 

6. Host an EMS BBQ

Invite EMS professionals in the area to a special BBQ celebration in their honor. 

7. Get creative for a good cause

Glacier County EMS in Cut Bank, Montana, has hosted EMS Night at McDonald’s, where EMS personnel serve food and take orders. They’ve also done full-service bagging and carry-out at the nearby Albertson’s grocery store. All donation proceeds go to a special cause, such as buying bike helmets for local children.

8. Hold an EMS coloring contest

This is perfect for younger children. Award prizes for the top winners.

9. Offer a citizen EMS academy

This is ideal for young adults to learn the ins and outs of EMS and could serve as a career education.

10. Hold a shopping mall event

Malls are a great place to park an ambulance to offer education and demos.

11. Host a survivors’ reunion

Reunite and honor survivors of near-fatal cardiac events with the men and women of EMS who saved their lives. This type of event always proves meaningful to survivors and EMS personnel. 

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8 touching EMS reunions

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12. Host a family fun event

Parents will appreciate a fun day for their children that they don’t have to plan. Many children’s entertainers have adapted to social distancing and mask rules and will put on a show or lead an activity that follows guidelines.

13. Light up the night for EMS

In years past, the Empire State Building has partnered with FDNY to celebrate EMS Week by lighting the top of the building in yellow, white and blue. Set up a special building lighting in your community to celebrate EMS. 

14. Plan school visits

Every year, Siouxland Paramedics in Sioux City, Iowa, meet with young students to teach them about the EMS profession. Their community outreach helps kids develop trust in the local EMS professionals to take care of them and their loved ones. Plan something comparable in your area. 

15. Host vehicle tours

Travis County Star Flight in Austin, Texas, invites the public to check out (and get into!) all the helicopters on display, along with rescue and firefighting equipment. Visitors can talk with the flight crew and watch helicopter demos, including patient rescues and water drops. 

16. Organize an EMS open house

Offer public education presentations and training or offer to speak to local groups to share why EMS is a valuable part of your community.

17. Host an EMS college bowl

This friendly competition can be held with crews from different shifts or other area services. Plan sporting events and athletic challenges. Add an extra challenge by including an EMS skills competition as well.

18. Give out grab and go lunches or snacks 

EMS staff appreciate healthy food and drink choices, and this accommodates all schedules. 

19. Read and promote EMS blogs and podcasts

There’s often no better way to learn than from your peers. Join the online community of EMS professionals who chronicle their experiences every day by reading EMS blogs and listening to podcasts – or even consider starting your own! 

Add to your feed:

Add to your feed:

Inside EMS Podcast

Listen weekly as co-hosts Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson discuss EMS life through good-natured banter and expert perspectives

20. Plan an EMS for children education day

Remind your personnel about the EMS for Children resources and materials such as webinars, podcasts or publications to make sure they’re up to date on the specialized needs of treating children.

21. Organize a Stop the Bleed day 

Organize a community hemorrhage control program by placing bleeding control kits in public places like near an AED and offer training programs for citizens. Find more information at https://www.stopthebleed.org/

22. Plan a car seat and seatbelt event

Host a child restraint inspection event where EMS professionals can teach families how to transport children safely.

23. Plan a memorial event or a moment of silence

Remember colleagues injured or killed in the line of duty with a public ceremony or a moment of silence. Another way to honor fallen EMS practitioners is by participating in the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride.

24. Host an awards dinner

This special event can recognize an EMT and Paramedic of the Year, as well as other awards for EMS professionals. 

25. Thank your family  

Give gratitude to your family by taking some time off during EMS Week, relax and be present and attentive with the ones you love.

26. Put It in writing

Buy a billboard to thank practitioners for going above and beyond the call.

27. Have a t-shirt design contest

Ask for submissions of EMS-themed designs, then have employees vote to select their favorite. Print the winning design on T-shirts, which you can give out as EMS Week gifts.

28. Hire a food truck

Find a truck that offers local specialties. This event can be outside and socially distanced. You might need to host your event on two separate days to make sure everyone has a chance to attend.

29. Host a blood drive

Work with the American Red Cross, which has experienced nationwide blood donation shortages. If possible, offer those who donate a small gift or EMS Week incentive. 

30. Hold a virtual tour of ambulances

Post it on social media. Since you can’t invite school groups and other members of the public in, bring the ambulance to them, virtually.

31. Teach first on the scene (FOTS)

First On the Scene is a four-hour course designed by NAEMT and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) that prepares the public to respond to medical crises that may occur in everyday circumstances or during mass casualty events such as shootings or motor vehicle collisions. Topics include bleeding control, treating anaphylaxis with epinephrine auto-injectors, using naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses, among others.

32. Recognize a CPR save or another life-saving rescue

Few moments are more meaningful for EMS practitioners than meeting someone whose life they helped to save. Bring together the crew, the person who was saved and their family. If they’re willing, share the story with the media.

33. Participate in the National EMS Memorial Service and Weekend of Honor

This event is scheduled for July 22-24, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va. The purpose of the National EMS Memorial Service is to remember and honor those emergency medical services personnel who have died in the line of duty and to recognize the ultimate sacrifice they have made. For more information, please visit national-ems-memorial.org.

Read more:

Read more:

EMS Week 2023: 3 ways to celebrate

This year's recognition week theme, “EMS: Where Emergency Care Begins,” highlights the ways providers are at the forefront of emergent patient care

This article, originally posted in May 2022, has been updated. 

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