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The National EMS Memorial Bike Ride (NEMSMBR), the National EMS Memorial Foundation (NEMSMF) and the National EMS Memorial Service (NEMSMS) regret to announce that the 2020 National EMS Memorial Service and Weekend of Honor, scheduled for May 15 to 17 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, has been canceled in direct response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Organizers of the weekend in concert with national experts and EMS constituents have been conferring in recent days. They balanced their commitment to provide a safe and healing environment for all who attend with continued mandatory travel and mass gathering restrictions as well as recognition of the many participants who remain on the front lines of the COVID-19 response in their decision to cancel.
With the utmost respect to this year’s honorees and all who support and attend the Weekend of Honor, priorities remain focused on the duty of first responders to continue active response to this unprecedented situation. However, we are collaboratively working on alternative options for honoring our colleagues, the organizers said.
The weekend traditionally includes a series of events that honor all emergency medical services (EMS) providers from air and ground who serve in the U.S., but especially those who become ill or have been injured related to their duty, and culminates with the formal service to specifically honor in the highest degree, those who have died in the line-of-duty.
Brian Shaw, NEMSMBR president, said: “While we are disappointed to have to cancel planned rides, we are refocused on creating a virtual Ride befitting our honorees. We will continue to shine a light on the sacrifices those in EMS make. More details will be posted on our website www.nemsmbr.org as they become available.”
This year’s National EMS Memorial Service was to pay tribute to 24 EMS providers who died in the line-of-duty and was set to coincide with the beginning of the 46th annual National EMS Week.
Jana Williams, NEMSMS president, said, “I don’t know that there has ever been a more defining time to recognize the service and sacrifice of those in EMS as there is right now. The valor and tenacity of all who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 response commands deep respect. While the priority must remain on this incident for now, the fallen will not be forgotten. We still plan to host this year’s National EMS Moment of Silence on Saturday, May 16 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Additionally, we will pay tribute to the 2020 honorees at next year’s service, ensuring they receive the full national recognition they deserve.”
The list of 2020 honorees and information on the National Moment of Silence will be posted to the NEMSMS website at www.national-ems-memorial.org.
Katie Orsino, NEMSMF executive director, added: “We support our partners at the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride and the National EMS Memorial Service as they were forced to make heartbreaking decisions to alter planned events this year. The response to COVID-19 we are seeing from first responders across our country, however, is nothing short of heroic. It only reinforces our resolve to bring a permanent EMS memorial to the nation’s capital to honor their commitment, service and sacrifice. We will not waiver in our efforts to ensure it becomes reality.”
Updates on the progress of this effort can be found on their website at www.emsmemorial.com.
The Weekend of Honor is organized and hosted by the following volunteer-staffed organizations: National EMS Memorial Bike Ride, National EMS Memorial, and the National EMS Memorial Foundation.