Recently, Lapeer County EMS recognized local first responders who, thanks to their training and quick thinking, helped saved the lives of several individuals experiencing cardiac arrest. Upon reading the incident descriptions associated with each incident, it’s clear that paramedics, EMTs, dispatchers and police officers encountered very dire circumstances but that didn’t deter them from giving the very best care. What’s also worthy of noting is that care saved lives and prevented many of those patients from experiencing any kind of neurological affects.

Last month, state officials proclaimed May 15-21 as EMS Recognition Week in honor of the work first responders do in delivering traditional pre-hospital care plus other services like follow-up care and preventative medicine. During the pandemic, EMS agencies played a critical role by offering COVID-19 treatment both at home and in other, non-hospital settings.

In a press release from the state, the president of the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services described it as “tough but rewarding work.” In addition to the nature of the job, the ambulance service industry has its fair share of challenges too—namely in the realm of funding and staffing.

As state officials marked EMS Recognition Week, EMS leaders from across the state declared that the best way to honor their work was to support efforts to end the industry’s staffing crisis. A coalition of associations and unions are proposing a $60 million state funding plan that would dedicate funds to recruiting and training programs, the creation of a marketing program to promote careers in emergency medical services and a revamp of the EMS licensing process. The coalition did acknowledge the $12.9 million allocated in the state’s 2022 budget for EMS services that will be used to increase reimbursement rates.

As a community, we are grateful for the first responders among us who respond to calls for help and whose actions can be the difference between life and death.

We hope that emergency service sectors and state lawmakers can come together to find solutions that address funding and staffing needs so that these critical services can continue operating at the highest, most responsive levels.