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Resolving EMS challenges, an AI perspective

A guide to enhancing workforce conditions, improving quality of care and shaping the future of the industry

Electronic brain and Concept of artificial intelligence(AI).

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The What Paramedics Want survey asks respondents to rank the most critical issues facing EMS, from most critical to least critical. For several years, retention of quality EMS personnel has been selected as the No. 1 issue. Funding and reimbursement, provider mental health and recruitment of qualified applicants have also ranked high as critical issues. Understanding these issues, as well as solutions to these issues has been explored in the What Paramedics Want industry report, Pinnacle EMS leadership forum presentation and a webinar with industry experts.

I shared the list of critical issues with ChatGPT and asked the AI assistant to describe each issue and then recommend a solution for each issue that “must be actionable and relevant for the leader of an EMS agency with less than 50 employees.” Here is the response, with some light editing and links to EMS1 resources to help implement the suggested solutions.

Career development/advancement. Many EMS professionals face challenges in career development and advancement due to lack of clear growth pathways and professional development opportunities.

Criminalization of medical errors. This refers to the risk of legal action against EMS providers due to unintentional mistakes made in the course of their duties, which can create a culture of fear and discourage open discussion of errors for learning and improvement.

  • Solution: Develop a strong internal culture of safety and learning, where errors are openly discussed and used as opportunities for improvement rather than punishment. This can be supported by implementing robust error reporting systems, providing regular training on avoiding common errors and advocating for legislative changes to protect providers from criminal prosecution for unintentional errors.

  • Watch for more: On-demand webinar: Don’t become a cautionary tale: EMS litigation update

Education of the workforce. The fast-paced nature of EMS work often leaves little time for ongoing education, which is crucial for maintaining high standards of care.

  • Solution: Establish a continuous education program that includes online modules, workshops and regular training sessions to keep the workforce updated with the latest techniques and best practices.

  • Read more: Training Day: Train, educate and develop – or lose

Funding and reimbursement. Limited funding and low reimbursement rates can strain resources and negatively impact service quality.

Leadership. Inadequate leadership can lead to poor morale, low productivity and high turnover rates.

Provider mental health. The high-stress nature of EMS work can lead to serious mental health issues among providers.

Provider safety. EMS providers often face physical risks in the line of duty, from violent incidents to exposure to infectious diseases.

Quality of care. Maintaining high-quality care can be challenging due to factors like high turnover rates, inadequate training and resource constraints.

Recruitment of qualified applicants. The demanding nature of EMS work can make it difficult to attract and recruit qualified applicants.

Retention of quality personnel. High stress levels, demanding workloads and lack of growth opportunities can lead to high turnover rates.

  • Solution: Improve retention by addressing job dissatisfaction factors, providing competitive benefits and compensation, and fostering a supportive work environment.

  • Read more: 21 proven EMS staff retention ideas

Wait times/hospital delays. Long wait times and hospital delays can hinder patient care and lead to inefficient resource usage.


When directed to rank the critical issues facing EMS from most critical to least critical, ChatGPT’s rankings are quite a bit different than how the people working in the real world and leading EMS ranked them. Here are the ChatGPT rankings:

  1. Quality of care. The primary mission of any EMS agency is to provide high-quality patient care, making this the most critical issue. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 9)

  2. Provider safety. Without ensuring the safety of EMS providers, it’s impossible to maintain a functioning, effective service. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 8)

  3. Provider mental health. The mental wellbeing of providers is paramount to ensure they can perform their duties effectively and maintain the quality of care. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 3)

  4. Funding and reimbursement. Adequate funding is essential to address most other issues, from workforce education to provider safety. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 7)

  5. Education of the workforce. Continual education is key to keeping up with advancements in medical care and ensuring high-quality service. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 6)

  6. Recruitment of qualified applicants. Without a strong pool of candidates, it’s challenging to maintain a high-quality service. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 2)

  7. Retention of quality personnel. Keeping experienced, well-trained personnel is crucial for maintaining service quality and efficiency. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 1)

  8. Career development/advancement. Opportunities for growth and advancement help attract and retain quality personnel. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 4)

  9. Wait times/hospital delays. These can significantly impact patient outcomes and efficiency of care. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 10)

  10. Criminalization of medical errors. This issue can demoralize the workforce, deter people from joining the profession, and potentially lead to cover-ups rather than open discussions about errors. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 11)

  11. Leadership. While crucial for overall agency success, it’s ranked lower as good leadership can’t compensate for issues like lack of funding or provider safety. (WPW survey respondents ranked No. 5)

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.