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Remembering EMS Trailblazer Susan McHenry

Dec 21, 2022

Former NHTSA Office of EMS (OEMS) staff member Susan McHenry passed away Friday, December 16th, in Colorado with her family and friends by her side. She spent the day singing, dancing and wrapping Christmas gifts with smiles.

Susan became State EMS Director in Virginia in 1976, just a few years after the position was created and Congress passed the EMS Systems Act, funding the modernization of EMS systems across the country. Twenty years later, she joined the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of EMS where she spent the next two decades supporting states and EMS stakeholders in growing and improving EMS systems across the nation.

One of Susan’s most lasting career legacies was helping to develop the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS). Today, the data collected by NEMSIS helps EMS agencies and clinicians improve the care they provide to their communities.

Susan retired from the Office of EMS in December 2018 and moved to Colorado to be closer to her family. At the time, Susan said, “I can’t imagine anyone having a career that could’ve been more rewarding than the one I’ve had.”

“Susan was a trailblazer and a positive force for change,” says Gamunu “Gam” Wijetunge, Director of the NHTSA Office of EMS. “My deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends.”

Wijetunge and fellow NHTSA colleague Dave Bryson reflect on time spent with McHenry.

“She was a warm and caring person who had an amazing career,” adds Dave Bryson, EMS Specialist. “She truly cared about helping EMS clinicians and the people and communities they serve.”

Her family would like to thank all those who worked with Susan “for being dear friends and co-workers for so many decades.” A celebration of her life will be held next year in Virginia.