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Why EMS always makes a difference

Being “Stronger Together” is about service to others and to the community

For the average EMT or paramedic, EMS week is something of a scavenger hunt to find out which hospitals are giving out free food, pens or water bottles. Some local restaurants are kind enough to offer a free coffee or cold drink to uniformed personnel. Banquets, breakfasts and barbecues are offered in most regions for those who can manage to get the time off from working and actually sit down and eat a decent meal.

Proclamations are made by politicians and the words “Hero” and “Lifesaver” get thrown around a lot. All of this is very nice and certainly much appreciated.

What really needs to be said though, is what every patient knows, and every EMS provider needs to hear and believe: We make a difference.

In every kind of weather and almost always behind the scenes and with little thanks or recognition, we make a difference.

The reality is that we rarely save lives. More often, we simply prolong death. Every emergency we are called to, regardless of how minor or tragic, we provide care, comfort and reassurance along with applying the knowledge and skills we have studied, learned and practiced repeatedly until the application is second nature to us. On what may be a complete stranger’s worst day, birthday or last day of life, we make a difference.

We go where no one else wants to be. To the mangled car wreck, the elderly fall victim who has been lying on the floor covered in their own waste for days. The end-stage cancer patient who reminds you so much of your mom, or brother or God forbid your child, that it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, or to the babbling, paranoid drug addict and we make a difference.

We leave the safety of our home or station, we leave meals uneaten and sleep unfinished because an emergency is just that — unplanned, unpredictable and uncertain. Sometimes we simply put someone back in their bed. Sometimes we arrive only to find there is nothing we can do. Every now and then, we get to restart a heart, stop the bleeding or ease the pain and suffering. Every time, we make a difference.

I regard my participation in this profession to be an honor, privilege and a daily reminder that life is short but for the most part wonderful. I work with amazing people who continuously strive to learn as much as they can about the human body and the human condition, with all its strengths and frailties, so they can be the best provider possible when they are called upon.

I meet patients who are sometimes pathetic, but more often heroic, and I learn something from each of them. I have been fortunate enough to meet EMS people from all over the nation and I am humbled by their strength, intelligence, courage and compassion, as well as their ability to find humor in situations most would find if not terrifying, at least disgusting.

And when I go home healthy and intact, I am grateful that my biggest concern is being tired, hungry or bored. I am grateful that I end my day knowing that I made a difference. I am even more grateful that we make a difference.

Thank you for being there to answer the call and always in service. We make a difference.

Nancy Magee combines a business woman’s perspective on marketing, efficiency and customer service with an EMS volunteer’s heart. Nancy, a Connecticut native, now resides in Louisiana and offers her Volunteer Survival Series workshops and consulting services through MEDIC Training Solutions to agencies across the country. Contact Nancy at