An unsung but remarkable event eclipsed by the extensive summit coverage last week deserves acknowledgment. This note of appreciation is especially appropriate because the incident involved the District's much-maligned emergency medical services.

In the frenzy of Mikhail Gorbachev's arrival Dec. 7 and the extraordinary security arrangements at the Vista Hotel adjoining my office and the nearby Madison Hotel, we were forced to call the EMS when a staff person suffered an unanticipated health problem.

Looking over Thomas Circle from my office as I placed the request for help, I saw that traffic was congested beyond the usual level as motorists coped with lane restrictions, unfamiliar rules just introduced and the inevitable start-stop pattern of rush hour.

Not only did the EMS respond to the dire situation facing us, it did so within five minutes in the most astonishing and effective way. First came the hook and ladder with a calm, competent team of firefighters serving in a paramedic capacity. Just a little while later an EMS ambulance crew -- which had come from a more distant location -- arrived.

Now, reflecting back on that scene, I still shake my head in admiration for that feat of driving skill and emergency care. While the dismal EMS failures speak for themselves, last week's performance warrants both gratitude and the sincere hope that a new standard has been struck.

JULIUS S. LEVINE Washington