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The Best of Our Profession

Related Resource: The EMS1 2008 Year in Review special coverage

As the year comes to a close, many of us look back at the events that have affected us, our families and our professions. What have we learned? What could we or would we have done differently? And perhaps most importantly, how will those events impact the coming year?

As I look back on the events that affected EMS in 2008, there are several that stand out:

NAEMT elected new leadership through two elections where the membership, as a whole, was responsible for electing a new board of directors and officers.

EMS services impacted by floods and tornados in Iowa, as well as the hurricanes along the southern and eastern coastlines, saw the best of their profession as their brethren arrived to help cover calls and rebuild devastated communities.

The Boy Scouts in Blencoe, Iowa, struck by a deadly tornado, used the lessons learned through EMS disaster planning and practice to triage and treat fellow Scouts when responders couldn’t immediately get to them. They proved that community partnership with local emergency responders does make a difference when disaster strikes.

However, I feel the most significant events that may define 2008 for emergency services are the number of line-of-duty deaths that have taken place. EMS providers have been killed in ambulance accidents by being struck on the side of the road while caring for a trauma patient, while air medical transports have seen the highest number of crashes and line-of-duty deaths on record in 2008.

As we look to the coming year, there will be continued challenges of funding and reimbursement issues that EMS has always faced. How will EMS funding be further impacted by a difficult economy? How will this affect the safety of EMS providers? Advocacy for EMS issues will require strong voices from all levels to ensure that additional safety measures are established to protect prehospital providers while on duty. EMS line-of-duty deaths are recognized on the same level as our brethren in law enforcement and the fire service; the continuing struggle for EMS to be recognized and funded as a vital service and profession will be even more critical in the upcoming year.

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