MISSOULA – President Ford authorized EMS week in 1974 to celebrate emergency medical service responders and communities across the US have since dedicated the week to safety and getting to know local service providers.
Missoula held its first EMS fair in the Southgate Mall Saturday honoring those on the front line in an event that featured fire trucks, balloons and EMS crews.
Community Medical Center and Missoula Emergency Services provided safety information, ambulance tours, and car seat checks for the public. Organizers say people don’t usually get to meet service crews in a pleasant setting.
CMC trauma coordinator Jenny Ross says the fair gave people a chance to thank workers, “there’s a lot of agencies that well deserve recognition for the hard work they’ve done.”
Summer is one of the busiest times of the year for emergencies, with increased opportunities for travel, drinking, and being on the water.
Emergency services span law enforcement, first responders, and medical providers, and the event also honored some working in emergency prevention.
“We show up when you call, we’re here all the time, whether we’re on duty, off duty,” Missoula Emergency Services Incorporated (MESI) Education Director Kathy Andress said.
Lonie Hutchison — who has worked in traffic safety in Missoula for 36 years and is retiring in August — says she’s seen the number of seatbelt wearers in the county increase from 13 to 90% in her time on the job.
“It has been such a rewarding career, traffic safety, and being able to see a measurable difference.” She, along with 23 other groups and individuals, were given plaques to recognize their work.
National EMS Week is always the week before Memorial Day weekend.
In Montana, the summer months mark the deadliest time of the year with 45% of all fatal crashes happening between Memorial Day and Labor Day.