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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Time to take EMS issues to Congress

This month’s EMS on the Hill Day is the perfect time to help lawmakers understand what’s needed in field care across the country

By Arthur Hsieh

Over the past 40 years we have fought among ourselves to create our identity, our raison d'être.

But EMS is a complex dilemma, with more turmoil than ever before. Cities, towns and even states are facing major challenges providing field care and emergency medical transportation to their communities.

From private agencies going bankrupt and employee walkouts, to states facing major gaps in service provision, a recent American Military University article points out that it’s becoming more and more difficult for governments to adequately provide for its citizens.

Unfortunately, it’s not surprising. We — meaning you, me and the rest of us EMS folks — have not done a comprehensive, consistent job at advocating for our profession.

The problem is, EMS in its current iteration, is a multifaceted industry with multiple purposes. Health care, public health and public safety are all functions that are touched upon by a local EMS service, to varying degrees, and to varying levels of success. The article does a great job encapsulating how we look to folks who make a big difference in our lives — the legislators who shape public policy and direction.

EMS on the Hill Day

Now, I know that most of us abhor the thought of calling our elected officials. It probably falls somewhere between taking out the garbage and plunging a toilet. But the saying of the squeaky ambulance wheel getting the grease holds true. If we do not advocate for ourselves, who will? And now is the perfect opportunity to do so.

On March 26, the National Association of EMTs and Advocates for EMS will again assemble in the halls of Congress for EMS on the Hill Day. EMS providers like you and me will be visiting representatives’ and senators’ offices, to take a few minutes to explain to congressional staff the issues that affect field care across the country.

You may not have the time or resources to attend this annual event. Most of us don’t. But, you can easily have your voice heard by providing your input at local offices, either in person, by phone or online.

Don’t want to be a rogue? Join your local EMS advocacy organization, be it regional, state or national. Pay the dues and become part of the voice that helps drive change. If it’s not you and me, then you can bet it will be someone else, and they may not have our interests at heart.

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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Chris Winkelmann Chris Winkelmann Tuesday, March 04, 2014 5:32:04 PM Yep yep

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