Emergency Medical Services personnel are the unsung heroes of our society. As I sit to write this, sirens are blaring, and the many tones of the different EMS appear to have stopped in my immediate neighbourhood. (No, the men in white coats are not coming for me - not today, at least!) Every time a siren blasts by my house, I know that the brave men and women of EMS are on their way to some kind of emergency. Every day, these unsung heroes answer the call, laying their lives on the line to help a stranger.
On 9/11, we lost dozens of EMS heroes who ran towards danger, when most people were running away, trying to escape from the terror.
Running towards danger is what EMS do, but you and I mostly never hear of their heroic deeds. I first introduced you to one of those heroes here:
Friday, September 11, 2009
Think of Keith, and by all accounts from those who know and love him, laughter is the first thing that comes to mind. Laughter, loyalty to family and friends, service to his community. These attributes are what continue to define Keith: beloved son, cherished friend, respected EMS professional, and of course, 9/11 hero.
Keith Fairben was 24 years old on September 11, 2001. The only child of Ken and Diane, Keith grew up knowing that service to others matters. .....
If you haven't already done so, go and meet Keith, and his family, here.
When I first approached Keith's family to write about, and share, who he is, I was shocked to learn that in the years since 9/11, nobody - and I do mean nobody - had taken the time to find out who this EMS is, or what his actions on 9/11 meant to those who love him the most. Of course, our fallen heroes from that day are remembered by those who love them, and they live with the hole left by their absence every single day, but the rest of society? Not so much. This still holds true today; there is an abysmal lack of public recognition, and honour, paid to those EMS heroes who live in service to others, and who sometimes fall in the line of duty.
This week a Memorial Service is being held to publicly acknowledge the sacrifice of EMS personnel who have given their lives in service to their communities over the last 12 months.
This annual event seeks to redress the dearth of respect and recognition these unsung heroes receive from society at large.
Every year, a non profit group gather for a Memorial Service to honour their own. June 26 is this year's date when families of the 2010 fallen EMS will join, as one 'family,' to remember and honour their sacrifice:
The mission of the National EMS Memorial Service is to honor and remember those men and women of America's Emergency Medical Services who have given their lives in the line of duty, and to recognize the sacrifice they have made in service to their communities and their fellow man.
Each year, hundreds of family members, friends, coworkers, EMS and political leaders, and colleagues from EMS agencies from around the nation gather together to remember our honorees.
The National EMS Memorial is not a single event but rather a weekend of events centered around the ceremony known as the National EMS Memorial Service. Please click on The Weekend in the menu above to learn more about these other activities.
The 18th Annual National EMS Memorial Service will take place on June 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm MDT (GMT -6:00) at the First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Please take a moment at that time to join us in remembering our fallen colleagues.
Visitors are invited to use the The Service and The Memorial links above to learn more about the National EMS Memorial Service and the "Tree of Life". ...(here)
Take a look at these names. Read them, and think about these families whose heroes gave all:
(copyright George W. Murphy. Here)
|Joseph R Barlow of Johnson County Rescue and EMS, Mountain City, TN, who died in the line of duty on September 18, 2009 of injuries received in an ambulance involved motor vehicle accident.|
|Paul Boyer of Womack Army Medical Center Ambulance Services, Fort Bragg, NC, who died in the line of duty on October 22, 2009 of injuries received in an ambulance involved motor vehicle accident.|
|James Bradshaw of Mountain Lifeflight, Susanville, CA, who died in the line of duty on November 14, 2009 of injuries received in an aeromedical aviation accident.|
|Timothy A Byrd of Dover-Stewart County Rescue Squad, Dover, TN, who died in the line of duty on February 9, 2009 of a cardiac arrest while on duty.|
|Debra A Cole of South Portland Fire Department, South Portland, ME, who died in the line of duty on June 11, 2009 of a cerebral vascular accident while on duty.|
|Diana Lynn Conner of Carolina Lifecare, Conway, SC, who died in the line of duty on September 25, 2009 of injuries received in an aeromedical aviation accident.|
|Mark B Davis of Cape Vincent Volunteer Fire Department, Cape Vincent, NY, who died in the line of duty on January 31, 2009 of a gun shot wound received while at the scene of a call.|
|David M Deland of Lake-Sumter EMS, Mount Dora, FL, who died in the line of duty on November 6, 2009 of a cardiac arrest while on duty.|
|Randolph Claxton Dove of Carolina Lifecare, Conway, SC, who died in the line of duty on September 25, 2009 of injuries received in an aeromedical aviation accident.|
|Larry Wayne Feagin of Gemini Ambulance Service, Falfurrias, TX, who died in the line of duty on August 13, 2009 of a cardiac arrest while on duty.|
|Melissa Gerese Greenhagen of Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital STAT Ambulance Services, Glasgow, MT, who died in the line of duty on January 17, 2009 of a gun shot wound received while walking across a hospital parking lot.|
|Paul D Holmes, Jr. of Douglas County Fire Department, Douglasville, GA, who died in the line of duty on December 28, 2009 of injuries received in an ambulance involved motor vehicle accident.|
|Daryl Joseph Lahren of Kindred Ambulance, Kindred, ND, who died in the line of duty on June 25, 2009 of a cardiac arrest while on duty.|
|Dale R Long of Bennington Rescue Squad, Bennington, VT, who died in the line of duty on June 15, 2009 of injuries received in an ambulance involved motor vehicle accident.|
|Bonnie McNeil of Union Rescue Squad, Willard, NC, who died in the line of duty on May 14, 2009 of a cardiac arrest while on duty.|
|Christopher Meadows of San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Search & Rescue, San Luis Obispo, CA, who died in the line of duty on May 24, 2009 of injuries received in an ATV accident while performing a beach/dune rescue.|
|Harry R Moore of Duquesne Emergency Medical Services, Duquesne, PA, who died in the line of duty on November 22, 2009 of a cardiac arrest while on duty.|
|Charles Denny Myshrall of North Coventry Volunteer Fire Department, Coventry, CT, who died in the line of duty on February 26, 2009 of complications from surgery for injuries received from a fall at the scene of a call.|
|Barry John Nagle of Silver Spring Ambulance and Rescue, New Kingstown, PA, who died in the line of duty on February 4, 2009 of a cardiac arrest while on duty.|
|Clinton Reger of Mountain Lifeflight, Susanville, CA, who died in the line of duty on November 14, 2009 of injuries received in an aeromedical aviation accident.|
|Christopher Ritz of Mountain Lifeflight, Susanville, CA, who died in the line of duty on November 24, 2009 of injuries received in an aeromedical aviation accident.|
|Virginia K Shearrer of Larned EMS, Larned, KS, who died in the line of duty on June 5, 2006 of a cerebral vascular accident while on duty.|
|Gary David Street of East Lake Sinclair Volunteer Fire Department, Sparta, GA, who died in the line of duty on October 17, 2009 of a cardiac arrest while on duty.|
|Andrew Francis Tingwall of New Mexico State Police Aircraft Section, Santa Fe, NM, who died in the line of duty on June 11, 2009 of injuries received in an aeromedical aviation accident.|
|Patrick B Walters of Carolina Lifecare, Conway, SC, who died in the line of duty on September 25, 2009 of injuries received in an aeromedical aviation accident.|
|Thomas E Widcamp of Cameron Parish EMS, Cameron, LA, who died in the line of duty on October 9, 2009 of injuries received when a rescue trailer pinned him to the EMS building.|
[Brat editorial note: Seem to be having tech issues *gasp* with the list of names. No disrespect intended for those heroes whose names are not appearing in my final copy. Please follow the link for the full list. Thank you.]
The all-volunteer organisation which co-ordinates and runs this special weekend is totally donation dependent. They receive not one dime from any government agency. The NEMSMS relies on the goodwill of others to ensure the proper respect is paid. This year is the first year that the Memorial Service will be held in Colorado, and yes, Colorado has donated the land and the facilities. Kevin Agard, volunteer Public Information Officer of NEMSMS, points out that the EMS 'doesn't have the lobby of police departments,' so all weekend activities are paid for out of supporters' pockets. Adopt-A-Family is one such aspect of the weekend. Each year, the organisation tries to match an honoree's family with a supporter, who helps defray the costs of a fallen hero's family attending the Memorial Service. As Agard told me, up until this year, families across the US gathered at Roanake. The travel expenses, plus hotel accomodation, for the fallen EMS' families to attend, can be prohibitive, and the NEMSMS does everything they can to ensure the families can be at the annual gathering. According to Agard, this year is the first year that every honoree's family has been successfully paired under the Adopt-A-Family program.
For many families, this is the only time they can travel across country to share in this public recognition. Diane, mom of Keith:
...I don't think too many go after their loved one is honored.Ken and I go, because ...it is one of the very few ways he and the others are remembered. Not just 9/11 EMS, but all EMS who die in the line of duty. We have to be Keith's voice!...We are probably one of the only family members that have returned every year...we were sponsored the year Keith was honored, after that we pay our own way. ... EMS is always the silent service, ... and rather like a small community( unfortunately ) FD and PD always get the glory!
For these unsung heroes there is not nearly enough 'glory,' in my humble opinion. My regular readers know that not many days go by when I do not think about these fallen heroes or their families, but like most of us, travelling to be part of public memorial services is not an option.
For more details on the National EMS Memorial, go here:
The National EMS Memorial is composed of the Tree of Life and the Memorial Book.
The Tree of Life is a representation of an oak tree, symbolizing strength. The name, agency and date of loss of each National EMS Memorial Service honoree is engraved on a bronze oak leaf, which is then added to the Tree of Life.
The Memorial Book contains a page for each National EMS Memorial Service honoree. These pages contain photos, biographies and agency patches for each individual honored. The Memorial Book is kept on display near the Tree of Life.
During the Memorial Service Weekend, the pages for each of that year's honorees is mounted and displayed next to the Tree of Life so visitors to the Memorial may view the honors paid to their loved one as a whole. At the conclusion of the weekend, these pages are then added to the Memorial Book. ...
There are some beautiful pictures of the Tree of Life here.
Any of us, all of us, can support these unsung heroes, even if we cannot attend the Memorial Service. If you have a few spare dollars, you can contribute financially. Go here for the main site and look around. The specific projects are listed, and you can choose to support any one aspect of the weekend: Adopt-A-Family, meet and greet on the Saturday, volunteer dinner, or the Sunday morning family breakfast. You can also choose to donate to the NEMSMS general fund, and let the organisation designate where your money is most needed.
The National Memorial Service is open to the public. For those of us who cannot be there in person, the NEMSMS is live-streaming the service:
2010 marks the first year that the National EMS Memorial Service will be streamed live via the Internet.
The webcast will begin at 6:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time (0000 Zulu), Saturday, June 26, 2010 and may be viewed at http://live.nemsms.org
While you are at the site, be sure and read about the Moment of Silence.
The National EMS Memorial Service Board of Directors had been looking at how to address the issue of allowing all of America's EMS providers who can not be personally in attendance at the Memorial Service each year with a way of participating and honoring those who have fallen in the line of duty. A number of ideas were put forward but the one chosen is the National Moment of Silence.
This choice was made for a number of reasons but the three primary are:
- It is the least intrusive and distracting to those providers who might be rendering patient care at the Moment.
- It is the least intrusive to our civilian neighbors
- While some other, more public methods were suggested, it is not the intention of this project to get the general public involved, that we leave to individual local agencies. Our mission is to provide a method of participation for the members of our profession....
For more details, read here.
I am not an EMS professional, but it seems to me that a Moment of Silence is the least we, as members of the public who rely on the selfless professionalism of these unsung heroes, can do to honour these Line of Duty EMS fallen heroes.
I know what I'll be doing this coming Saturday. What will YOU do to honour and remember these unsung heroes?