National EMS Memorial Service Honors Fallen

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. --

The names of 43 fallen heroes were added to the "Tree of Life" during the 19th annual National EMS Memorial Service.

View List of Honorees

The ceremony was accented by bagpipers and honor guards.

The EMS providers who perished while serving their communities came from small and large departments as well as Medevac teams.

Memphis Deputy EMS Chief Gary Ludwig told the crowd: "We have come to honor and recognize true professionals; mourn their deaths; celebrate their lives; and draw strength from each other and God. This past year has not been easy for the family members left behind."

Ludwig said of all the EMS and fire conferences he has addressed in his career, he was most honored to have been selected to speak to survivors.

"What the families here today should know is that your loved one was a member of noble and honored profession. People who perform EMS work give "love thy neighbor" a new meaning."

Ludwig added: "Good Samaritans do not pass by those in peril and need. They show their compassion with action. Across the United States, EMS professionals are Good Samaritans. The EMT who not only takes a little old lady to the hospital, but returns to her home over several days to make sure all she has left in the world, her little dog, is taken care of, is fed and watered each day while she remains in the hospital.

"It's the paramedic who not only transports a frightened child to the hospital who fell off their bike, but gives them a teddy bear in the back of the ambulance, makes friends with them, and will not leave that child's side until the parents arrive at the hospital."

He spoke about who the heroes are in the eyes of average citizens.

"Each day when you see an ambulance rolling down the street, a medical helicopter flying overhead, or a fire truck en route to a medical call, those are heroes rushing to aid someone in need."

"Your loved ones were proud of what they did and what they were a part of. They were part of the larger community of EMS and what we do every day."

During the service, families were presented with a medallion symbolizing eternal memory; a U.S. Flag that has flown over the Nation's Capital, symbolizing service to the country; and a white rose symbolizing undying love.

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said: "Colorado Springs is honored to be the permanent home of this memorial that pays tribute to America's Emergency Medical Services providers who have given their lives in service to their communities."

The ceremony ended with a fly-over involving four helicopters.

"It was very powerful, very emotional," said Kevin Dillard, NEMSMS president. "Especially since many of our honorees were killed in air medical crashes."

Ludwig reminded the survivors: "The sirens may have fallen silent for your loved ones, but their spirit will live on in those who will respond this very night to someone in need."

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