COLUMBIA, S.C. ― The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina EMS Association are proud to recognize our state’s emergency medical service’s (EMS) professionals during National EMS Week, which is May 17-21.

Over the past year, S.C. EMS professionals have continued to work collaboratively with DHEC and other partners across the state to support community COVID-19 testing programs and drive-thru testing sites as well as with patient transportation. EMS agencies have also played an important role in assisting with the rollout of South Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

“We are indebted to the service and dedication of our state’s EMS professionals who respond to medical emergency calls day and night all across our state,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “In addition to their around-the-clock readiness to administer medical care to those in need, they’ve taken on new roles and responsibilities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect public health.  Our medical system could not function without the front-line work of these courageous individuals.”

The South Carolina Division of EMS and Trauma, which is within DHEC’s Bureau of Healthcare Systems and Services, monitors/develops protocols, designates trauma centers, and certifies emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics and athletic trainers.

“As a former EMT myself, I want to recognize the importance of South Carolina’s EMS personnel and all they do to care for their communities,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director. “It’s a demanding job and I’d like to say thank you to these men and women for all they do around our state, every day, to care for individuals, respond to emergencies, and protect public health.” 

South Carolina has 272 EMS agencies and more than 11,000 emergency personnel, which includes first responders, EMTs and paramedics. An EMS system involves a highly coordinated response for emergency medical care that relies on teamwork and camaraderie between multiple people and agencies. 

“We are thankful for the work EMS professionals do every day and the sacrifices they make to take care of the citizens of South Carolina,” said Rich Wisniewski, DHEC Director of EMS and Trauma. “They do an incredible job.” 

May 24 marks the 50th anniversary of South Carolina’s first EMS class in Lancaster County. Lancaster County’s EMS department is currently led by Clayton Catoe, who was named 2020 EMS Director of the Year for South Carolina.

“South Carolina EMS has a lot to be proud of,” said Henry Lewis, Executive Director of the South Carolina EMS Association. “This week marks the 46th annual National EMS Week and the message of ‘Caring for our Communities’ couldn't be a more fitting theme. Through the recent challenges of staffing exacerbated by the pandemic, our EMS providers stood tall and rose to the occasion. South Carolina EMS showed our dynamic adaptability by engaging in COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, alternate transport models, innovation in treatment in place models and more. I’m proud to be a part of this team and on behalf of the South Carolina EMS Association I'd like to wish the finest EMS professionals in the nation a happy and safe EMS Week.”

More information regarding National EMS Week can be found here. For the latest information about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19.

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