Who will 'claim' EMS?

Editor’s Note:

Editor's note: With tension mounting in California due to the change in policy that prevents firefighters from providing paramedic services, our Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh takes a look at the underlying issues and what it means for EMS.

The events that are happening between a metropolitan fire department and county government agency are indicative of several issues that have existed for some time, from clinical validity to legal precedence.

This situation is quite volatile because many of the concerns have ambiguous arguments supporting them, and with that lack of clarity comes vitriolic discussions, rather than rationale debate.

It bothers me that the profession is seemingly unable to have these types of conversations that are based in research and best practices. In some ways this points to an insidious notion that somehow EMS is not "legitimate" — no one institution can claim sole responsibility for its purpose, so everyone clamors that somehow it's rightfully theirs.

A similar issue is being played out in K-12 education between public and private school systems. The recent Los Angeles Times article of teacher performance in the local school district ignited a firestorm inside educational circles of who should "own" the right to educate children. In both of these cases, it's the public who stand the most to win — or lose.

So who should "own" EMS? My response is whoever can provide the best service, based on rationale, real-impact measurements. That's a combination of clinical, operational and financial markers that result in the overall protection of the community's health.

I'm not taking sides in this debate that's happening between the city and the county — far be it for me to say that I understand all of the intricacies. But please, let's focus on common sense and set aside ego for the duration.

About the author

Art Hsieh, MA, NRP teaches in Northern California at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. An EMS provider since 1982, Art has served as a line medic, supervisor 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 writer, author of "EMT Exam for Dummies," has presented at conferences nationwide and continues to provide direct patient care regularly. Art is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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