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FOR RELEASE: May 6, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

EMS Professionals Honored During National Emergency Medical Services Week, May 18-24
EMS Workers Ready to Respond in Medical Emergencies and Catastrophic Events

National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week, a celebration to honor EMS providers who provide lifesaving emergency care, is scheduled for May 18-24. This year's theme - When It Matters Most - emphasizes the commitment and dedication of the 750,000 national EMS providers who serve our country. Oklahoma has more than 6,100 emergency medical technicians (EMTs), about 200 licensed ambulance services and 150 certified first response agencies that provide timely and attentive interventions that save lives every day, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

“The events of Sept.11, 2001, brought to everyone’s attention the need for excellent emergency services. Now, with Oklahomans worried about war, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, they can feel some comfort knowing that if an event occurs in Oklahoma, heroic teams of EMS and public health professionals will be ready to respond at a moment’s notice to their medical needs,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch.

EMS Week is an opportunity to educate the public on an essential community service and recognize the heroic efforts of EMS providers. State and local activities will raise public awareness about how to prevent injuries and what to do in a medical emergency. Some of the events in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area include the following:

Saturday, May 17 - EMS & Rescue Fest
This all-day, kick-off event will be held at OSU/OKC’s Precision Driving Training Center, 3401 W. Reno Ave., at the corner of Reno and Portland in Oklahoma City from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a variety of rescue demonstrations from services across the state, competitions for medical and rescue teams, children’s activities - including a bike safety fair and a car seat inspection, a grant-writing seminar, and much more.

Sunday, May 18 - EMS Day at Bricktown Ballpark, Downtown Oklahoma City
EMS personnel will be recognized during the Oklahoma City Redhawks game.

Tuesday, May 20 - EMS Day at the Capitol
Rotunda Displays will give EMS providers an opportunity to interact with members of the Oklahoma Legislature. Display areas will be available all day on the 4th floor rotunda for EMS services and organizations to provide information to and visit with state legislators.

A Provider Recognition Ceremony will be held on the steps of the South Plaza of the State Capitol at 11:30 a.m. to recognize Outstanding Emergency Medical Service provided by Advanced and Basic Life Support EMTs, Fire Service EMTs, and Law Enforcement EMTs. A special presentation will be made for the Oklahoma EMTs who have given their lives in the line of duty in the past year.

Wednesday, May 21 - Annual EMS for Children Day at the Bird Library, OU Health Sciences Center, Stanton L Young and Stonewall, lobby and patio areas
Oklahoma Emergency Medical Services for Children will be coordinating a variety of activities and displays at this event, from static displays about injury prevention to demonstrations by EMS providers and hands-on activities for children. This event, which runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will include fire service and law enforcement.

Thursday, May 22 - EMS Softball Tournament in Shawnee
This event will include EMS, fire and law enforcement teams from across the state competing in a tournament to benefit the families of paramedics Shane Gilmore and Shawn Skelly, from Southern Oklahoma Ambulance Service in Ardmore, who died in the line of duty.

Saturday, May 24 - National Moment of Silence
This event is to remember the nation’s EMS providers who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives in the line of duty. All participating agencies observe 60 seconds of radio silence on this day at 7 p.m. (EDT). The National EMS Memorial Service in Roanoke, Va., organizes this event.

"Oklahoma EMS lost two Ardmore paramedics last year who were struck by a car while working a traffic accident on the highway. This tragedy spurred the OSDH EMS division to collaborate with police, fire and EMS to standardize and enhance scene safety training. Now, we must teach the public to slow down and move over when approaching an emergency scene on the roadway, as mandated by law," says Shawn Rogers, director of the OSDH EMS Division.

“EMS workers and health care professionals work tirelessly to help victims of disease and injury, despite the danger to themselves, toughening training standards, and declining funding. Oklahomans have seen EMS workers step up to meet the crisis in tornadoes, floods, fires, and the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. I wish them all the best as they continue to fulfill their vital role in providing for our health and security,” Beitsch added.

Some of the sponsor organizations for EMS Week include: Oklahoma State Department of Health EMS Division, Oklahoma EMS for Children, Oklahoma EMT Association, Oklahoma State Firefighters Association, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Peace Officers Association, Oklahoma Ambulance Association, OSU-OKC, REACT EMS, EMSA, Oklahoma Association of Police Chiefs, Central Plastics of Shawnee, Safe Kids Coalition, State Farm Insurance, and American Heart Association.

For more information about EMS in Oklahoma and scheduled activities, contact Shawn Rogers, director of the OSDH EMS Division, at (405) 271-4027.

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