National EMS Week: Aspirus honors Wisconsin’s rich EMS history

national ems week
Dr. Michael Clark, emergency medicine physician and EMS Medical Director with Aspirus Health

WAUSAU, WI (OnFocus) – Each year in May, a week is set aside to recognize the lifesaving work that EMT’s, paramedics and first responders do every day in our communities. National EMS Week, May 15 through May 21 this year, has been nationally celebrated since 1974, but Aspirus’ connection to EMS roots goes back even further.

The state of Wisconsin has a proud history in the evolution of EMS. Dr. J.D. “Deke” Farrington, a physician at Lakeland Memorial Hospital and Howard Young Medical Center, now part of Aspirus Health in Woodruff, has been referred to as “the father of modern EMS” due to the integral part he played in the development of emergency medical services dating back to the 1950’s.

While the groundwork for an organized system of pre-hospital emergency medical care had already been laid, it was Dr. Farrington who became a pioneer of EMS as we know it today. Among his many accomplishments in the field, Dr. Farrington most notably coordinated the first nationally recognized EMT course that was held in Wausau in 1969, invented the spine board and promoted the use of extrication, and was even part of the development of the “Star of Life” as the EMS symbol.

“The Northwoods is proud to have such a rich history in the development of these techniques and trainings that continue to save countless lives today,” says Dr. Michael Clark, emergency medicine physician and EMS Medical Director with Aspirus Health. “Dr. Farrington understood the importance of emergency medical care and had the foresight to see how he could improve it. We can imagine that he would be pleased to see how Aspirus Health continues to contribute to the field of emergency care.”

Today, Aspirus MedEvac is a team of over 250 emergency service providers, with two air bases, 35 ground ambulance units at 13 bases located throughout Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Aspirus MedEvac has been accredited by the National Accreditation Alliance of Medical Transport Applications (NAAMTA) since 2015. Aspirus MedEvac is the first hospital-based program in the NAAMTA Alliance and the first program to meet 100 percent compliance in the inspection process. MedEvac helicopter services are operated by PHI Air Medical and Air Methods Corporation.

Join Aspirus Health in recognizing the dedicated EMS professionals who provide emergency medical care in communities across Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

For more information about Aspirus’ medical transport services, visit

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News Desk
Author: News Desk

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