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Susan McHenry Retires After Four Decades of EMS Leadership

December 28 marks her last day after 21 years in the NHTSA Office of EMS

In many ways, Susan McHenry’s career has paralleled the evolution of EMS. She became state EMS director in Virginia in 1976, just a few years after the position was created and Congress passed the EMS Act, funding the modernization of EMS systems across the country.

Twenty years later, she joined the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of EMS soon after the publication of its landmark EMS Agenda for the Future. Now, after more than two decades at NHTSA and as the EMS community embarks on EMS Agenda 2050, Susan is moving on to her next adventure—retirement.

“It’s been such a joy,” said Susan after being recognized for her service at a recent meeting of the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS. “I can’t imagine anyone having a career that could’ve been more rewarding, constantly changing and just tremendous than the one I’ve had.”

In both Virginia and at NHTSA, Susan has overseen efforts to improve the lives of people served by EMS agencies as well as EMS clinicians.

One of her most lasting legacies will be the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS), a project she helped shepherd in its early days. Today, the data collection facilitated by NEMSIS helps EMS organizations improve the care they provide to their communities across the country.

Many organizations have recognized Susan for her work and for being such a positive and collaborative partner. In honor of her lifetime of service, the National Association of State EMS Officials issued a resolution recognizing Susan’s “well-deserved reputation for lifelong excellence in leadership, collaboration, and concern for those EMS touches serves as an inspiration to us all.”