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Rural Ramblings
by Jules Scadden

Defragmenting EMS

A voice that creates a roar that cannot be ignored

By Jules Scadden

"We all share the wound of fragmentation. And we can all share in the cure of unification." Gabrielle Roth

There is one glaring fact in EMS — we are fragmented. While we actually agree on almost everything that is wrong with EMS, addressing how to fix those challenges and who should lead that charge is where dissention occurs. There is disagreement on who or what organization should be the leader or "voice" for EMS.

When we don't like what one organization or group thinks, we just develop another in the belief it can fix what others have not. The results over the years are numerous "fragments" of a profession seen by others as "EMS doesn't know who they are."

A recent article by an esteemed colleague asked "Where is our Martin Luther King?" Perhaps more pertinent questions are:

  • Who are all the fragments of EMS and how do we bring them together?
  • Why are the organizations, their partners and "grassroots efforts" that claim to represent EMS not coming together in a common mission with a strong united voice for EMS?

A voice that creates a roar that cannot be ignored. In May and June this year, two important events by EMS practitioners will provide opportunities to present a united front and voice a common mission to our legislators and the public as a whole.

Next month's first Annual EMS on the Hill Day — on May 3-4 — is an opportunity to bring the voices of EMS to Congress. Discussions on the various EMS list serves, online social networks and magazines often highlight the need for EMS to be recognized as an essential profession. EMS on the Hill Day is an opportunity to get the attention of our congressional leaders. The event is for everyone; groups and individuals, street practitioners, EMS leaders and allied healthcare partners from every state and organization.

While NAEMT is sponsoring the event, you do not have to belong to them to participate. This initiative is an opportunity to use our voices, as a united constituency, to bring the concerns and challenges EMS faces every day to the attention of legislators who can make a difference. Remember, they work for us! EMS on the Hill Day is an opportunity to demonstrate the power to effect change when many voices unite under a single vision and work toward common goals for the betterment of EMS practitioners and EMS services as a whole.

Later that month, The National EMS Memorial Bike Ride's annual event will take place during EMS Week May 15-21. The mission of the "Muddy Angels" is to "honor EMS personnel by organizing and implementing long distance cycling events that memorialize and celebrate the lives of those who serve every day, those who have become sick or injured while performing their duties, and those who have died in the line of duty.” The NEMSMBR brings together EMS practitioners from all over the country and abroad, their families and supporters to:

  • Remember EMS workers who have died in the line of duty
  • Raise public awareness about line of duty deaths and disabilities in the EMS profession
  • Honor EMS workers who continue to work despite dangerous safety conditions
  • Advocate for a national tracking of injuries, near misses and a line of duty deaths in EMS
  • Provide a safe, friendly and supportive environment for registered participants to bicycle
  • Promote healthy lifestyles for EMS providers through physical activity and nutrition

The ride in May will have three starting points. The northern route will begin in Bennington, Vt., and South Portland, Maine, on May 15, meeting in Nashua, N.H., that evening. Both starting locations experienced a LODD this past year and opening ceremonies will take place at each point to remember and honor those individuals. The southern route will begin in Paintsville, Ky., and on May 21, both routes will meet at a designated spot in Maryland to ride into Washington DC together.

On May 22, there will be a brief Ceremonial Service honoring the Muddy Angels (all participants, sponsors, supporters, and coordinators), EMS services and personnel — especially those along our routes, EMS and public safety officials, special invited guests, and other important individuals with a dinner and dance following the ceremony to mark the end of this year's EMS Week ride.

The Board of Directors of the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride fully supports the National EMS Memorial Service "in its tireless effort to recognize the losses of our peers and the phenomenal support it gives to the families of our lost brethren."

The Muddy Angels, in support of the National EMS Memorial Service, will additionally hold a special one-day event on June 25 in Colorado. The ride, starting in Denver and ending in Colorado Springs, supports the National EMS Memorial Service and the families of the honorees. EMS must not be fragmented in honoring and remembering the individuals and their families who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

These events represent the opportunity to unite EMS, set aside personal agendas and bring the fragments together. It is not a single person or "Martin Luther King" or one organization that will "fix" EMS. Just as defragmenting a computer's hard drive improves function, bringing the fragments of EMS together can only improve and enhance the EMS profession.

"We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."
Martin Luther King Jr.

About the author

Julie K. (Jules) Scadden, NREMT-P, PS has been actively involved in EMS for 18 years, and is the CQI/IT/Data Coordinator with Sac County Ambulance Service in Northwest Iowa. A passionate advocate for EMS, Jules has served on numerous advisory boards and committees on state and national levels. She is one of the founders and past Secretary for the National EMS Museum Foundation and is currently serving as the President of the Iowa CPR Education Foundation and the Board Secretary of the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride, Inc. ("Muddy Angels"). Jules is an EMS Instructor serving as adjunct faculty for areas community colleges and is a frequent presenter at EMS conferences speaking on topics covering special patient populations and Children with Special Challenges. Jules is a co-author of Fundamentals of Basic Emergency Care, 3rd edition. To contact Jules, email jules.scadden@ems1.com.

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