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DHS Supports EMS As A Valuable Piece Of Our Nation’s Security

May 19, 2014

The following was provided by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Health Affairs.

EMS Providers – Dedicated for Life
Dr. Kathryn Brinsfield, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs & Chief Medical Officer

EMS Week gives us a dedicated time to turn our focus to EMS providers and thank them for their service and protection. These frontline personnel, often performing their medical duties and law enforcement responsibilities in diverse, austere and often dangerous environments, provide a critical piece of homeland security for our Nation.

Personally, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for EMS providers, having worked as part of Boston EMS for 11 years. To this day, I apply the valuable lessons I learned from my colleagues. Those men and women I worked with are lifelong friends and remain people that I turn to for advice in challenging situations.

Here in the Office of Health Affairs, we strive to do our part in supporting EMS providers, who keep us safe in situations, from small incidents to large-scale disasters. It is our responsibility to ensure they are prepared to do so by collaborating with our partners in the federal, state and local sectors to identify gaps and implement solutions that coordinate and strengthen the medical preparedness and response activities of the Department of Homeland Security.

Additionally, through collaboration, our office draft guidance in order to provide EMS providers with best practices and lessons learned on a variety of topics. We believe that providing collaborative preparation before an incident minimizes catastrophic effects and allows for the sharing of information and best practices between federal, state and local partners. This, in turn, enhances and improves reactions and responses for during an emergency. Our Chemical Defense Program recently developed guidance for local communities on response to a mass chemical exposure incident. We encourage you to visit the Federal Register site and provide comments on the draft guidance.

The Office of Health Affairs also hosted a stakeholder engagement to discuss responses to improvised explosive devices and active shooter incidents. Representatives from EMS came together with law enforcement, the fire service and federal organizations to discuss hemorrhage control, personal protective equipment and interoperability when responding to these types of events. This meeting provided an opportunity for various stakeholders to share ideas that can be implemented within their respective jurisdictions. Additionally, OHA is working with its federal partners to further develop draft guidance on the medical response to these incidents, which will improve survivability. Within DHS, we support more than 3,500 providers by providing standards and guidelines, including medical oversight, credential verification, and education and training that align with the national EMS education standards.

With all of their work, whether in the federal, state or local arena, EMS providers are an important part of our communities. While they protect us, I encourage them to take care of themselves, both physically and mentally. The stresses EMS providers take on are heavy and while it is admirable they accept these responsibilities, it is also admirable to seek help when needed.

Stay healthy – your dedication and service is a valuable piece of our Nation’s security!