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What if EMS won a $1 billion lottery jackpot?

Big dreams to improve EMS with a windfall of funding for safety, health and wellness, research and leadership development


A lottery sign indicating the totals as of 7 p.m. October 30, 2022 in Salem, Massachusetts.

Photo/courtesy Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

I don’t buy a lottery ticket often, but when I do I wait until the jackpot is over $400 million. If I am lucky enough to win I might as well win big. Once the ticket is in my hands I start daydreaming about how I would spend the massive windfall — pay off the mortgage, pay off mortgages of family, give generously to my favorite charities, take a glorious vacation — and then hunker down to enjoy life living off the miraculous earnings of compounding interest.

But what if it was EMS that won the jackpot instead of an individual? Here are my ideas for how $1 billion or more Powerball or Mega Millions lottery jackpot could be spent to:

  1. Improve the EMS profession
  2. Make EMS providers safe
  3. Ensure a bright future for EMS

Add your ideas in the comments.

1. Hands-on training on escaping violent encounters for every EMT, paramedic and medical first responder. These half- or full-day sessions would build off the EMS1 Escaping Violent Encounters video series.

2. Body armor for every EMS provider to wear on every call. But before we purchase the body armor we will complete research and design and pilot testing to come up with an EMS-specific vest that is:

  • Slash, stab and bullet resistant
  • Easily cleaned and decontaminated
  • Comfortable to wear while sitting, standing, kneeling or bending
  • Available in color patterns that clearly differentiate an EMS provider from cops and soldiers

3. Fitness equipment for every EMS station in the land. The EMS fitness equipment bundle could include a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical machine, free weights and chin-up bar. Or maybe each station could be issued a fitness grant to purchase the exercise equipment of most interest to the people in the station, as well as an EMS-specific functional fitness training plan.

4. Send a chef and nutritionist to every agency to teach responders how to cook healthy meals and pack nutritious snacks for on-the-go eating. The nutritionist would also teach personnel how to track their calorie consumption, select healthy foods and bring their better eating habits home to their significant others and children.

5. Add a power-lift cot to every ambulance. Manual lifting patient-loaded stretchers should be a thing of the past for every EMT and paramedic using a stretcher or stair chair.

6. Stand-up peer support teams in every agency. A team of experts would be funded to create a peer support team training curriculum, field test and improve the curriculum and then diffuse that training across the land. In two years or less every EMS agency would have peer support counselors to respond to EMS providers in distress and refer those providers, as needed, to mental health professionals. Peer support is the lifeline that never fails.

Those peer support teams would be supported by specially trained EAP clinicians who understood EMS.

7. Create, staff and permanently fund a 24/7/365 national peer support hotline for EMTs and paramedics to call. The hotline call takers will be knowledgeable of EMS (maybe even current or former medics) and have easy access to local mental health and social work resources to refer callers to. Funding for the national peer support hotline will include the capacity to follow up with callers, as well as resources for far and wide marketing of the peer support hotline’s availability.

8. Long-term funding to train and support EMS researchers in a broad array of medical and nonmedical academic disciplines. We need EMTs and paramedics to bring their field knowledge, experience, and passion into other career fields, such as psychology, physiology, kinesiology, biology, biochemistry, pharmacy, statistics, accounting, information technology, law and litigation, healthcare administration, epidemiology, bioengineering, computer science, human resources, public health, marketing and communications.

9. Endow an EMS artist, musician, dancer, comedian and writer residency program. Each year 10 medics would receive an artist-in-resident scholarship equal to or greater than their annual salary, plus benefits and their employer would receive funding to backfill their position. After the residency, the artist will have a job waiting for them.

During that year the EMS artists would be able to illustrate, paint, compose, write, perform or photograph full time and at the end of the year, their art or performances would be displayed in an online gallery and exhibited at EMS conferences everywhere.

10. Develop the next and future generation of EMS leaders by providing scholarships for EMS officers and aspiring officers to become a NEMSMA credentialed EMS officer. In addition, any field training officer in the land could complete the EMS-Field Training and Evaluation Program at no cost or heavily reduced cost.

11. Support legislation for combat medics transitioning to civilian EMS careers. The process and timeline for honorably discharged combat medics to become ready-to-work certified and licensed should be measured in days or weeks, not months or years.

12. Complete construction of the National EMS Memorial in Washington DC. Congress approved legislation to build a memorial in late 2018. I’d like to see the memorial built before next May rather than waiting years for donations and appropriations.

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What would you do for EMS with $1 billion windfall? Big, hairy and audacious ideas only. Share your dreams for EMS in the comments.

This article was originally posted Oct. 20, 2020. It has been updated.

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.