Kathryn Brinsfield, the acting assistant secretary for health affairs and chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security, thanked EMS workers on Monday as part of National EMS Week.
"These frontline personnel, often performing their medical duties and law enforcement responsibilities in diverse, austere and often dangerous environments, provide a critical piece of homeland security for our nation," Brinsfield said.
Brinsfield cited her own experience working with Boston EMS for more than a decade and said her colleagues there have become lifelong friends.
The Office of Health Affairs has provided best practice guidelines to EMS workers to improve collaboration between local, state and federal authorities, and hosted training events and discussions on specific topics such as chemical attacks and improvised explosive devices.
"Here in the Office of Health Affairs, we strive to do our part in supporting EMS providers, who keep us safe in situations, from small incidents to large-scale disasters," Brinsfield said.
Brinsfield also encouraged EMS workers to look out for themselves.
"While they protect us, I encourage them to take care of themselves, both physically and mentally," Brinsfield said. "The stresses EMS providers take on are heavy and while it is admirable they accept these responsibilities, it is also admirable to seek help when needed."
National EMS Week was first observed by President Gerald Ford in 1974. Its goal is to bring together local communities and medical personnel to recognize EMS workers throughout the country.