Social media in EMS: Are you an Egyptian?

Recent events in Egypt showed two very different attitudes toward social media — one that embraced the technology, and one that ignored it

As the news of yet another firefighter-medic fired over his Facebook postings was made public, it has become clear that the only time you ever read about Social Media and EMS is when someone has supposedly done something wrong. The fact is that these are exceptions being highlighted and not evidence of a widespread malevolent nature within EMS.

A few weeks ago at the EMS Today conference, JEMS announced the Top 10 EMS Innovators Of 2010. These were individuals who during 2010 accomplished a significant feat of innovation to improve EMS in their communities and beyond.

Among the recipients honored was the Director of Education at CentreLearn (and columnist) Greg Friese for his commitment to educational excellence through e-learning for his hosting of the EMSEduCast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. With over 90 episodes recorded, covering a variety of instructional topics, the show has become a trusted information authority for EMS educators worldwide.

Another recipient was Chris Montera for the establishment of a Community Paramedicine program in his system. What was not mentioned in his bio was that he is the ringmaster of the EMS Garage podcast. This weekly roundtable discussion brings together a diverse group of EMS professionals to discuss a variety of topics.

One of the topics that has been discussed on the show is the idea of preventive care and the values of a Community Paramedicine program. Not only has Chris established such a program in his system, but he is spreading the word and inspiring others to innovate within their own systems as well.

Having two out of ten top innovators helping EMS to evolve through social media is evidence that its nature is dependent upon the intentions of the user. We have seen the potential power that these platforms have in engaging people who bring about change both nationally and globally.

Ultimately we are left with two options as both agencies and individuals when it comes to creating Social Media policies within our organization and in using Social Media to engage our communities.

The first option is to embrace social media. Your communities are already looking for you on social networks and on the World Wide Web, so it is important to establish a presence for reputation management reasons alone.

Determine how the needs of your agency align with the needs of your community and then meet them through announcements, public education, information dissemination, and offering solutions to common problems. Build a relationship with your community by demonstrating that your agency can provide value beyond just a ride to the hospital.

The second option, the option far too many leaders have chosen, is to pretend that Social Media doesn't exist, ignore it, and hope it goes away. That is exactly the mentality former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had, and we see how well that strategy worked for him.

Our communities will continue to evolve around us and failing to evolve with them has placed us at a huge disadvantage to the point where we will need a revolution in order to catch up.

While I cannot say that I walk like one, when it comes to bringing a revolution to EMS, I am Egyptian. Are you?

About the author

Dave is a New York City based EMS provider working in the field since 1994. He has worked in the private sector, as a 911 provider, and as a volunteer. Since 2005 he has been involved in Social Media aspects through the current major services as well as some defunct ones. He blogs about EMS, Social Media, and Event Medical Services at and maintains for other writings including updates on the books he authors.

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