Two Landmark EMS Documents

Related Resource: The EMS1 2008 Year in Review special coverage

One of my personal passions is participating in activities that will move the discipline of EMS towards professionalism. Two landmark documents were completed in 2008 the National EMS Education Standards and the National EMS Management Association white paper, Emergency Medical Services Management and Leadership Development in America: an Agenda for the Future.

The final draft of the standards, submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on September 30, will replace the National Standard Curricula and should be released in early 2009. The document defines the competencies, clinical skills and judgments required of entry level practitioners at four levels of certification: emergency medical responder, EMT, advanced-EMT and paramedic. They are less proscriptive than the NSC, which will allow programs to design customized curricula and implementation plans to meet local needs, as well as be a “living document” to be regularly updated and revised. The standards will guide EMS education for years to come.

The current state of EMS management and leadership development — similar to EMS as a whole — is fragmented and inconsistent. There is no agreed upon set of “officer levels” and no current consensus on defined leadership or management competencies at any level. The NEMSMA agenda envisions a time when we will have discipline-wide agreement on the knowledge, skills and abilities people need in order to be successful leaders and managers. We will also have a well understood and definitive common approach to acquiring the education, training and experience needed for management and leadership success.

The agenda recognizes the importance of achieving broad participation and consensus, and identifies key actions that must be completed: defining officer levels and identifying core competencies, creating a training and education network, and establishing a credentialing process. These actions are critical to future leadership and management development.

The standards and the agenda are landmarks that will guide us for years to come as we blaze the path toward professionalism. I am passionate about EMS and I believe that what we do is vitally important. I also believe that we must take action to secure a better future. The only way to make progress is for people like you and me to choose — to do the work to make it happen. In 2009, we will be faced with many challenges. I’ve chosen to participate, to take action. If I can do it, so can you. It’s your choice.

You can find the documents at the addresses listed below.

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