5 ways EMS can improve in 2011
By Art Hsieh
Being asked to gaze into a crystal ball is both an honor and a headache. Given the complexity and fractured nature of our profession, I'm hard pressed to understand how we might move forward in 2011. However, providing twice-weekly commentary on this past year's stories has provided some perspective of where we've been I know what I'd like to see happen during the next year:
1) Mean it like you say it: I'm hoping that there will be an effort to incorporate elements of emergency vehicle operations into EMS education. A very large part of our responsibilities involve maneuvering a large, top heavy, and inherently clumsy vehicle at high speeds.
A very small part of the typical EMT or Paramedic education program involves training on these vehicles. Recipe for disaster? I think so. Fixable? Yes, but with challenges. Should it happen? Absolutely. I hate reading weekly tragic crashes. And yes, there needs to be follow up - services must provide hands-on training opportunities, and enforce policies that foster safer mindsets about driving.
2) Be real: Related to the above, I'd like to see a real, honest to goodness discussion on response times. Should we be blazing through rush hour traffic to get to an infected toe? I don't think so, and neither should officials who have to measure something for a contract. I don't have a solution for this, but there are many smart people in our profession who probably do.
3) Train the right people: On the heels of number two, what about driving with lights and siren to seriously sick or injured people? Sure, but how about instead, prepare the true first responders - members of our community who could make a real difference, if only they were trained and prepared to do so? How about teaching our community how to effectively perform CPR if they’re ever in a situation where someone needs help? I'd love to see a real commitment from our profession to prepare our community partners in rendering care when it really counts. It's probably cheaper, too.
4) Real cost to benefit analysis: Let's question what we do, every day and every run. My guess is that if we do that we might begin to understand what our real impact in our community is, and what it can be. Keeping our heads firmly stuck in the sands of tradition will prevent us from seeing the horizon of the future. Like everything else, is change hard? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yup. Necessary? Absolutely. While I love Johnny and Roy, Emergency! went off the air in 1979. Thirty-one. Years. Ago. Folks, we are not a young profession. Time to grow up.
5) Go big time: Legislation introduced in the current lame duck Congress will likely reappear during the next session. While not perfect, it's a real move to develop the next evolution of field EMS in this country.
We've been whining about getting no respect for decades. It's time to put up or shut up. You can get involved, even if it's a letter or email to your local, state or federal elected official to support legislation that improves the delivery of EMS. This is way beyond your labor group representative. The foundation of a profession are the professionals who advocate for themselves. Pay attention to what happens around you. You really can make a difference!
What's your wish for 2011?