by Korey Hartwich | May 22, 2012
When injured or seriously ill, Americans rely on emergency medical services. These women and men come day or night, to provide professional care that saves lives. That tireless service – and the need to give them adequate tools to provide it – is the focus of this year’s National Emergency Medical Services Week.
The week is set aside for AFSCME’s 1.6 million members and others across the nation to recognize the incredible work of these providers. We honor the dedication, skill and sacrifice of EMS workers, who make the day-to-day heroism of lifesaving medical services happen.
“I love the chance to help people and to be a part of the most dedicated group of men and women I’ve ever met,” said Martine Bustamante, an EMT for eight years in San Jose, Calif. “I lost my dad to leukemia when I was eight years old. I took this job because I wanted to be there for all the kids and all the families who are facing life-threatening emergencies and who need emergency medical care.”
Well-trained, equipped, and experienced EMS workers make the difference when lives are at risk. That’s why they need a voice on the job, to work for safety standards, quality training and fair working conditions. Paramedics and EMTs know that having enough ambulances on the streets and updated equipment is essential to saving lives.
“We arrive at a scene of chaos and pain, and provide emergency services, create trust, and offer care to help people survive what may be the worst day of their lives,” said Dave Norris, a paramedic in Plymouth, Mass. “A union gives us the ability to be full participants in ensuring excellent care for our patients.”
Americans deserve quality care in their hour of need. That’s why EMS workers are pulling together to have a real voice on the job, to speak up for the care that people rely on and the skilled professionals who provide it. Together they have formed United EMS Workers/AFSCME Local 4911, a union organized by and made up of EMS workers with the full backing of AFSCME’s national unity and strength. Earlier this year, 400 EMS workers in California voted to join. And this month, 600 EMS workers in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire took a step toward joining the union.
Every day EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, chair car drivers and support personnel serve our communities and save lives. Check out this video saluting their work: