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Evolve or die: The changing face of EMS

Community paramedicine is one sign that we are moving forward

News that Thompson Valley, Colo., EMS is investigating the viability of community paramedicine programs is, I hope, one of many stories that I'll comment on this year.

What I said in my 5 things We Have to Do in 2012 column I meant: We have to evolve or we will surely be relegated to the cluttered little corner of professions "that never made it."

Community paramedicine is one sign that we are moving forward. In the era where health care will undergo its own revolution, EMS has to be part of the solution.

We have been part of America's health safety net for the past 35-plus years, ever since EMTALA became part of our nation's liability umbrella.

It simply makes sense that we are uniquely poised to implement unique, creative ways to improve the delivery of health care while lowering its cost to taxpayers and the insured (yeah I know, trickle down doesn't always work, but THAT's another story).

Evolutions like this also require evolution of thinking, and of learning. It's not enough to say, "Yeah, we have lots of experience, we can do this, too," and implement a complex program such as community paramedics.

Unfortunately there are many education programs that do not provide enough training to prepare EMS providers to make a transport decision safely and effectively.

As a profession, we need to ratchet up the volume and complexity of information so we can evaluate and decide who can receive such home care, and not need immediate, further evaluation by a physician.

Not everything can be taken care of by a set of protocols, especially when patients don't go by the rules.

Community paramedicine is one step. What other roles can we fill in our community? How else can we contribute to society's greater good?


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