For the last seven years, I have served as the director at large for the EMS Section. One of the primary responsibilities of this position is to write the monthly EMS column for IAFC On Scene, and during my tenure, I have authored roughly 80 articles for our membership.
My intent with my articles was simple. I wanted to communicate a message that was important to fire-based EMS systems, with the goal of having just one person stop to either think about or discuss that particular issue. On rare occasions, an article sparked some conversation and folks were quick to reach out to me with all types of comments. Sometimes these were positive and sometimes not so much, but I was happy that at least one person had read the article.
There are so many challenges and issues facing EMS as a whole, and they’re not going away anytime soon. When I look back at the articles I’ve written, some common themes keep reappearing.
Safety is always number one. Seven years ago, I wrote about the need to improve situational awareness, ensure adequate PPE for our personnel and prepare for high-risk, low-frequency events. These same challenges remain today, and they’ve been joined by terrorism, both foreign and domestic, that continues to threaten the safety of our responders.
We’ve also experienced a number of high-profile events ranging from active-killer incidents to civil disturbances to assaults and murder of first responders; unfortunately, I don’t see this getting any better.
Finances are a close second behind safety. We have and continue to be challenged with having sufficient funds to our do our jobs. We went through a recession during my tenure, and terms like the new normal became buzzwords when talking about funding levels to provide service. Funding will continue to challenge all EMS systems, especially as we move forward with the changes that the Affordable Care Act may bring.
I’ve written about the need for professional development and education to make us a true profession instead of a trade, how technology will make our lives better (or in some cases more challenging), why we need to be vaccinated and why we need to remain actively engaged in our communities.
Probably my most passionate issue over the years has been the disconnect, conflict and even distrust between fire-based EMS and other EMS providers in the United States. We’re all here for the same purpose, but at times, it sure doesn’t look that way. When we can’t agree on simple things, the more challenging issues like ambulance safety, EMS oversight and funding, and the EMS Field Bill are almost impossible to resolve.
Why have I written this short history article? It’s because this is my last article as the director at large. For the last two years, I’ve also served as the international director for the EMS Section, and my recommendation to our section board was that we needed to fill the director-at-large position. If the board agreed, I would resign my position as the director at large and focus solely on the international-director position.
The board did agree, and in July, Battalion Chief Kristen Andersen of the Las Cruces (N.M.) Fire Department was appointed to fill the remainder of my term, which goes through May 2016 (at which time she’ll run for election to this position). Chief Andersen brings a wealth of experience to the board, including having served in the U.S. Marine Corps, earning her degree in both journalism and international studies, and serving as the EMS battalion chief at Las Cruces Fire.
With that, I’d like to say thank you for allowing me to take a few minutes of your time each month. I have no doubt that Chief Andersen will take this column even further, and I look forward to reading her perspective on all things EMS.
So, until next time….