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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

'What's in a name': Poll results

Have we reached a conclusion? Well, not quite

By Arthur Hsieh

Whoever said that we don't need no stinkin' badge apparently never met an EMS provider. The series of articles about what we should be labeled by the community created quite a stir.

There have been hundreds of comments left by EMS1 readers, both in the Facebook page as well as on the EMS1 website itself. Almost 950 people responded to the survey that was posted last week. It's clear to me that we take this issue seriously and passionately.

My comments in this area notwithstanding, I took a look at the survey results below, which lists the preferences of those who responded to the survey. After looking at the results, below, I think that we are very passionate about the training we receive. Many comments went back and forth about calling an EMT a paramedic, and vice versa.

Here are your answers to the question: What generic term should the industry adopt for those in EMS when their education is unknown?

From that viewpoint, "EMS provider" may be the most nonthreatening label. It encompasses all levels of training, and aptly descries what we do. "Medic" comes in a close second though, and is a term that is easily recognized by the community. It's used in the media often, and is very familiar to those who serve in the military.

Many parts of Canada use the term "paramedic" as a generic term to describe their EMS folks. There are different levels of paramedic, from entry level to advanced. The patch, though simply says "paramedic", making that professional immediately recognizable to the community.

Like a few of the readers, I agree that the patch sewn onto the EMS uniform is not terribly important to the person who calls for an ambulance. The patient just wants to trust that what is in that professional's head and heart will be good enough, and compassionate enough, to provide quality, empathetic care. Are you that person? If so, does a label really make that much of a difference?

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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