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Call Against Changing Common Nomenclature of EMS to Paramedicine

It is the position of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) that the common term "Emergency Medical Services (EMS)" is the term recognized by the public to define out-of-hospital care provided by the current four levels of EMS providers. Standard, national consensus titles describe the four levels of provider: Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) and Paramedic. These levels correspond to the Education Standards, National Registry of EMT’s examinations, and are the most common terms for licensure/certification in all 50 states.

The training and education for each level is based on Practice Analysis, Core Competencies, Scope of Practice, and Education Standards. Each level is distinctly different and their titles reflect the proper name for each level of EMS provider. Of note, the present subset of EMS providers practicing as paramedics represents less than all other levels combined.

The IAFC believes that standardizing the reference to all providers as “paramedic” would create confusion among providers, the public and EMS services. The IAFC has seen no evidence to suggest a need for changing the terminology or combining all four levels into a single level of provider.

Additionally, the IAFC finds that comparing EMS in the United States to other countries can be misleading as providers in those countries have starkly different requirements for training and certification/licensure. The basic education of EMS providers in the United States represents the floor of training established by the Scope of Practice and Education Standards. Additional scopes of practice may be added at the state and local levels. Simply put, there is no nationwide consistency in additional training or services.

Therefore, the IAFC opposes any efforts to change the name of EMS to “paramedicine” and to call all EMS providers “paramedics.”

The IAFC recommends all EMS professionals, associations, and government agencies continue to use the common term of Emergency Medical Services. Furthermore, the four levels of EMS provider developed and supported by the EMS community should not be changed or combined into a single level or title.

SUBMITTED BY: IAFC Emergency Medical Services Section

ADOPTED BY: IAFC Board of Directors: July 24, 2017

Download the IAFC Position: Call Against Changing Common Nomenclature of Emergency Medical Services to Paramedicine (pdf)

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