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News | May 23, 2024

Walter Reed Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Emergency Medical Services Week

By James Black

Emergency Medical Services Week, May 19-25 this year, celebrates the physicians, nurses, corpsmen, medics and other EMS professionals who care for patients in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's emergency department (ED).

Emergency medical services (EMS) system consists of “first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, emergency medical dispatchers, firefighters, police officers, educators, administrators, pre-hospital nurses, emergency nurses, emergency physicians, trained members of the public, and other out of hospital medical care providers,” according to National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, an organizer for EMS Week.

The ED at Walter Reed treats a number of patients arriving to the emergency room, including those who have experienced trauma, falls, motor vehicle collisions (MVC), work-related injuries, chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, abdominal pain and other injuries and illnesses, according to Dr. Juan-Maria Sanfuentes, a staff physician in the ED.

"Members of the ED at Walter Reed are ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Sanfuentes added.

Walter Reed serves as one of the pinnacle hospitals for trauma care in the Military Health System, according to the Defense Health Agency. The institution has taken care of complex war casualties since before World War I and is the site of groundbreaking innovations in the care of wounded warriors.

Both Walter Reed and DHA leadership are supporting efforts to integrate the military capabilities with the civilian EMS system in part by achieving American College of Surgeons (ACS) verified trauma center status.

According to Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) John Maddox, Walter Reed Trauma Medical Director and Trauma Surgeon, “Walter Reed is uniquely positioned to take care of severely injured service members and beneficiaries arriving from around the world. Our efforts to meet the ACS verification standards assures we have the administrative processes in place that align with civilian EMS systems. The focus on civilian partnership will help keep Walter Reed ready to care for combat patients during this interwar period.”

Code Green Exercises: Preparing for a Potential Mass Casualty Event

Each year, Walter Reed conducts at least one “Code Green” exercise simulating a mass casualty event. The Code Green assists hospital managers in evaluating the emergency notification system, staff response, creation of mass casualty receiving stations and ensuring those areas were equipped with the appropriate personnel, supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Become a Lifesaver: Enroll in CPR Classes and Stop the Bleed Trainings

Sanfuentes explained the public can become part of the EMS team by learning CPR and the Heimlich maneuver in order to help save a life when a victim’s heart stops beating, or when they are choking. In addition, the Walter Reed Trauma program aligns with the national STOP THE BLEED awareness campaign which trains bystanders to provide simple lifesaving first aid in a bleeding emergency. STOP THE BLEED and CPR trainings are offered at Walter Reed throughout the year.

For more information about Walter Reed trainings contact: or

For more information about CPR, visit:

For information about the Heimlich maneuver, visit:

For information concerning STOP THE BLEED, visit:

Hot Weather Safety

Also, with warmer weather fast approaching, Sanfuentes offers the following information to help people avoid heat injuries, which lead many people to emergency rooms during the summer.

• Always stay well hydrated, especially if outdoors in the heat.
• Always wear sunscreen and reapply often.
• Use insect repellent (permethrin on clothing and DEET on skin).
Don't forget to keep your family's information up-to-date in DEERS.