First Responders and Mental Health: EMS Week

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  Written by Marie B. Former First Responder

 In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS week to celebrate EMS and their work.

 This used to be my favorite week. We’d get all kinds of goodies from hospitals and helicopter services. Our boss would buy the shifts pizza. Sometimes we’d get cool presents like shirts. Sometimes we had awards and a cookout. We even got to play volleyball. We had so much fun.

 According to, this year’s theme is EMS: Where Emergency Care Begins. It begins on May the 21st and goes until May 27th. I love that this website has days broken down as to what you should do each day. They even have a list of activities to do. My favorite is Sunday for this year. The 21st. Starting off with a good one!

 Sunday the 21st is Health, Wellness, and Resilience Day. So, as medical professionals, we suck at taking care of ourselves. That call that nags at us, we ignore. That pain in our lower backs, we ignore. That headache that lasts for a couple of days, we ignore. Instead, we drink or take a drug to numb the pain. Or even “hook” up as a way to cope. As I’ve stated before, that only numbs the pain. It does NOT go away.

 SO, my challenge for the 21st of May, is to take care of yourself. Vow to schedule that medical appt with your primary physician on Monday morning. Most doctors have apps now to where you can schedule appts online. Call that EAP number that HR gave you. Work on your mental health. You can take a mental health test online. FREE OF CHARGE!

 There are so many options out there. And they are all confidential. Also, as I’ve previously stated, if you know your partner is in counseling because they have confided in you, don’t give them crap. Support them. It is very difficult to talk about and if they trust you enough, support them. If you notice that your partner isn’t “acting right”, talk to them. LISTEN to them and then get them help.

  Ya’ll, seriously, the job is tough. The stigma is real. STOP IT!! No need for you to be “tough”. No need to “battle through”. Speak up! Your mental health is very important. Especially if you want to retire from EMS instead being forced to either quit or retire early. It will take a toll on your body and you will face a higher risk of getting injured. Find healthy ways to deal with the stress. Walking, dancing, going to the gym are just a few suggestions for stress relief.

  So kick back, relax. Enjoy that pizza, cake, and free goodies. (Have one for me, wink) Take care of yourself. And enjoy your week. You deserve it!!