State Health Department to Honor Emergency Medical Technicians Fallen in Line of Duty

Special Memorial Dedication to be held May 22 during EMS Week

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 19, 2008) – The New York State Department of Health will honor the more than 58,000 certified emergency medical services (EMS) providers, thousands of support staff who help administer emergency medical services, and thousands more emergency medical dispatchers during EMS Week, May 18-24, 2008. The theme, "Your Life is Our Mission," is part of a national celebration recognizing and honoring the high-level, lifesaving emergency care given by EMS providers.

The week will be highlighted by a Memorial Dedication to honor those Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) who have died in the line of duty. The dedication will take place at the Empire State Plaza in Albany at 11 a.m. May 22.

This year, two EMTs will be added to the memorial, bringing the total to 34 since the memorial was constructed and the annual memorial services began in 2004. The two are Matthew Lamb, a 25-year-old EMT of Empire Ambulance, who died in an ambulance crash in the Hudson Valley last year; and Deborah Reeve, 43, of the Fire Department, City of New York EMS, who died from an illness contracted during the 9/11 recovery operations.

"On May 22, New Yorkers will once again honor the memory of those EMS personnel who have given their lives in the line of duty," said Governor David A. Paterson in a proclamation. "Unfortunately, the provision of medical care in our EMS system can often be dangerous. Many of our EMS providers are injured while performing their duties to help others, and sometimes these injuries lead to loss of life. This year's memorial ceremony honors two of those EMTs who made the ultimate sacrifice. I am saddened for their loss, but grateful to them and to all Emergency Medical Service personnel for their commitment to their profession and to the lives of all New Yorkers. This memorial stands as a permanent testimony to this commitment."

The memorial is a large granite stone, with the carving of a Tree of Life. The deceased's name, EMS service, and date of death is carved into a leaf that is the shape of the Star of Life, the traditional EMS symbol. A separate Star is given to the family.

"Our hearts go out to the families of those emergency medical service providers who died so that others might live," said state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "The critical role of these dedicated, extraordinary EMS men and women cannot be underestimated or taken for granted. We recognize the commitment that emergency medical personnel make and the exceptional work they perform 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the communities they serve. Each community's EMS system is an invaluable asset, serving as a safety net for our health care system. During times of emergency, access to quality care dramatically improves the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury."

The EMS system is diverse, consisting of emergency physicians, emergency nurses, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, educators, administrators and other trained individuals who work in 911 dispatch centers, fire and law enforcement agencies and ambulance services, as well as physicians and nurses who work in hospital emergency departments and trauma centers. Volunteer and non-volunteer sectors frequently work as a team to respond to emergencies, and this partnership has grown over the years. Emergency medical providers undergo thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their skills and maintain optimum standards of medical treatment and urgent care.

There are more than 2.7 million EMS emergency and non-emergency ambulance transports every year in New York state. Additionally, 1,146 ambulance services operate more than 5,000 ambulances, with another 800 non-transporting first-response EMS services that assist in the emergency responses.

There are 18 Regional EMS Councils across the state. Each council has representatives of local ambulance services, physicians, nurses, hospitals and other EMS organizations, whose purpose is to foster regional cooperation and organization of local EMS systems.

Each Regional EMS Councils will hold EMS Week celebrations, dedications, special education and awareness programs in their communities. For information about these activities, please visit http://www.nyhealth.gov/nysdoh/ems/main.htm, and scroll down to the regional EMS Council from your region. For more information on the Memorial Dedication, call 518-402-0996 Ext.3.