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Emergency Medical Services: Dinosaurs

In previous articles, I’ve spoken about the need to establish and maintain relationships both inside and outside EMS and the fire service. From your community and local issues to regional, state and national emerging trends and topics, your relationships will help ensure you remain engaged and up to speed on the most current issues.

Maintaining relevancy is the key to survival in this day and age, and the last thing you want to be is a dinosaur stuck in tradition.

A humorous cartoon on the internet shows a dinosaur standing in front of a podium labeled “Fire Chiefs,” and he is speaking to a group of dinosaurs. The dinosaur says, “The picture’s pretty bleak, gentlemen. The world’s climates are changing, the paramedics are taking over and we all have a brain about the size of a walnut.”

While EMS tends to be at the forefront, it’s easy to fall into the trap of convenience, and we may know a fire or EMS chief who has fallen into the trap.

In today’s day and age, I believe most people in fire and EMS have progressed beyond having a brain the size of a walnut; we’re engaged in the many issues of our profession. However, there are still a few of us who remain stuck in tradition, doing things the same old way because that’s how we’ve always done it. That approach may have worked in the past, but it certainly doesn’t work now.

Goal 2 of the EMS Section’s Strategic Plan for 2015 is to “Develop and cultivate relationships with other EMS stakeholder organizations.”

To ensure we remain relevant and engaged with our communities, the EMS Section has committed to establishing or improving our relationships with other EMS groups, including but not limited to:

  • National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA)
  • National Association of EMTs (NAEMT)
  • National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO)
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Unlike the fire side of the house (with only a handful of national-level organizations and associations), EMS has well over 20 national organizations and associations steering the ship.

There are many current issues out there that directly affect fire and EMS agencies ability to provide service, including:

  • ambulance payments
  • the Field EMS Bill
  • ambulance standards
  • accreditation of EMS educational programs
  • mobile integrated health/community paramedicine
  • EMS Educational Standards revision
  • clinical practice guidelines
  • national licensure compacts
  • even the Ryan White Act

Throw in other issues like REPLICA, the changing infectious disease picture (Ebola, measles, etc.), staffing and generational challenges, technological advances and the economy as a whole, and you’ll quickly find there are more issues out there than you can possibly keep up with.

The EMS Section’s goal is to represent you on as many of these issues as we can and then keep you up to date with the latest information. We may be able to address some of these issues by ourselves, but we also know that on the big-picture items, well need the EMS profession as a whole to effect change.

This is where relationships become extremely important; if we appear to be fractured or competing against each other, we may all lose out in the end. And, the last thing we want is to end up like the dinosaurs.

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