A few months ago, I contacted a client for a scheduled call. She was not available to talk. She had just left for the local high school where there was an active shooter. Her children went to that school.

It’s been an incredibly difficult year for EMS. As evident in this picture, ambulance agencies have had to come together for disasters and flooding. Plus, we had other tragedies. Santa Fe. Parkland. Las Vegas. Orlando. Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Central Park bombing. A 30% increase in opioid overdoses from last year. Mother Nature and human nature created many difficult scenes that needed EMS help.

EMS got hit with other problems too. Intense audit scrutiny of ALS emergency providers as well as continued concern about non-emergency services. Reimbursements that don’t grow as needed. More elderly need help. We work with an aging population where Medicare beneficiaries now number 44 million and represent 15% of US residents. The need continues to increase for emergency and non-emergency services. EMS is the first response to a myriad of social issues – behavioral health, drug and alcohol issues, psychiatric problems.

There are times it appears there are chinks in our armor. The weight of doing what EMS does seems too heavy. Yet, there is progress. Technology continues to improve leading to better responses, from vehicles to equipment. Electronic charting has brought more robust documentation. The blossoming of community paramedicine initiatives creates better outcomes for patients, uses our resources well, and helps with lower acuity problems.

EMS may have a few minor cracks, but the foundation is strong. From new EMTs to seasoned providers, there is a commitment to patients and communities. This past year demonstrated how strong that commitment was. EMS is always the first to rise from the ashes of whatever event has befallen us.

Fred Rogers of the PBS show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood told a comforting story from his youth. When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” That’s EMS today – the helpers that we can always rely upon.

As we celebrate EMS Week, let’s look to those helpers and thank them. They are our comfort and sometimes, our salvation. For those lucky enough to work with them as I do, they are among my colleagues and friends. I can not imagine a finer group of people. EMS Strong!!

About the author:  Maggie Adams is the president of EMS Financial Services, with 25 years’ experience in the ambulance industry as a business owner and reimbursement and compliance consultant. Known for a practical approach and winning presentation style, Maggie has worked with medical transportation providers and billing companies of all kinds to support their billing, auditing, and documentation training efforts. “Like” EMS Financial on Facebook, follow us on LinkedIn or for more info, contact Maggie directly at maggie@ems-financial.com or visit www.ems-financial.com