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Emergency Medical Services: A New EMS Award Program – In the Wildland World!

As leaders, we know the importance of recognizing our personnel for a job well done. From a simple thank you to a departmental memo or press release to an actual award or medal, there are a variety of ways to congratulate our personnel.

Unfortunately, there's no standard in the fire and emergency service for types of awards, and honestly, there're really not that many. There are even fewer in the disciplines of hazardous materials, technical rescue or wildland.

That's why the announcement by the Incident Emergency Medical Subcommittee (IEMS) of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) of the new Wildfire EMS Awards is so significant.

In early April, an NWCG press release outlined this new award program: "The awards program will recognize the outstanding work, actions and program impact in wildfire emergency medical service across all local, state and federal jurisdictions."

According to Jan Peterson, chair of the IEMS, this is the first recognition program for EMS personnel working in the wildland environment. If you're involved in wildland firefighting, you know the challenges that EMS personnel are faced with on a daily basis on the fire line and in camp, and this doesn't even begin to include the licensure challenges that also exist.

The IEMS recognizes there are individuals all over the country who demonstrate exceptional patient care and dedication and are involved with and support-wildland fire operations as a whole; these types of service are worthy of recognition.

The IEMS created five award categories:

  • Outstanding Wildfire EMS Individual – Honors an EMR/EMT/AEMT or paramedic who has demonstrated independent initiative in the areas of quality assurance, patient care, public access, medical control, disaster preparedness, public education or training and who has demonstrated support, involvement and dedication to his or her wildfire EMS community and wildland profession.
  • Outstanding Wildfire Squad/Crew/Team – Honors a wildland fire squad/crew/team that has demonstrated independent initiative in the areas of quality assurance, patient care, public access, medical control, disaster preparedness, public education or training and that has demonstrated support, involvement and dedication to their wildfire EMS community and wildland profession.
  • Outstanding Wildfire EMS Distinguished Service – Honors an organization, agency, corporation, institution or individual who has provided unparalleled service in wildfire EMS and, in so doing, has greatly enhanced the visibility and awareness of wildfire EMS.
  • Excellence in Wildfire EMS/Rescue – Honors an individual who has displayed an act of selflessness and heroism above and beyond the call of duty during a wildfire emergency medical event, rescue incident or unexpected event.
  • Lifetime Achievement in Wildfire Emergency Medical Service – Honors an individual who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to the advancement of and leadership in wildfire EMS.

As you can see, these are significant awards that both NWCG members as well as cooperators are eligible to receive. I would like to publicly thank the IEMS and the NWCG for establishing this program. We should do what we can to help support this program, and the easiest way to do that is to nominate worthy candidates who have made a difference.

EMS isn't just about the urban/suburban environment; it's very far reaching. This is just one more way to recognize our personnel who are working to move the EMS and wildland professions forward.

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