Where are we going?

Scott Keir, MedicSBK, of the EMS in a New Decade blog dreams big. He pondered:

I wish EMS had the PR machine that fire does. Regardless of who u work for if u collect insurance info you’re “for profit”

Scott had been reading an article about private ambulance companies taking revenue from public sector fire departments.  The article might just be written by the IAFF. It is very one sided and puts the public sector workers on a pedestal:
…firefighters, who are among the most potent symbols of American trustworthiness and selfless valor.

I have my opinions of firefighters, police, doctors, lawyers, nurses, sanitation workers, teachers,  etc; no matter the job title, they are all humans and prone to err. Lets not elevate any one group above human beings.

The age old debate had been rekindled. Fire vs EMS. Private vs Public. North vs South. Yankees vs Red Socks. The pundits included AmbulanceJunkie, ImageMedic, JonEMTP and Hybridmedic.  Ambulance Junkie blogged his take on the discussion, go ahead have a look, I’ll wait.  The spirited debate on twitter tapped on every weakness EMS has as an industry.

  • Public relations
  • Pay
  • Career advancement
  • Transport based revenue model
  • Education
  • Professionalism
  • Paid vs Volunteer
  • Private vs Public EMS
  • General schism in the industry
 We played every side of the debate. We all know what the problems are, my question is what are the solutions?

Education. Bring our EMS education out of the 1970s, mandate 2 year Associates degree for paramedics. Stop giving me excuses, people flock to nursing schools for LPN diplomas. This is a reality that we as an industry need to embrace, adopt and require. EMS has been a ‘technician’ field for too long, we need to become clinicians. If you are in EMS, you provide healthcare for a patient, no matter how short the transport will be. The Ambulance agencies, public, private, volunteer, need to require degree based paramedics, WE need to be the ones who demand higher educational standards. Once the entire industry accepts this as the minimum, there will be degree programs everywhere. I promise.

Pay and Transport based revenue. Fix the educational standards and people will not accept lower pay. You think a BSN registered nurse is going to work for $12/hr? I seriously doubt they will. No I will not ignore the income model that has become the Achilles heel of prehospital healthcare. Medicare reimbursement can be changed to pay for services other than transport, the AAA, NEMSMA, IAFC/EMS need to start lobbying the fat cats in Washington DC. Partner with other healthcare providers, hospitals, doctors associations, nursing associations. Stop bickering amongst ourselves and get to work.

Public Relations.  Yes, I said “nurses think EMS are a bunch of knuckle dragging apes #NoRespect”. In the three states I’ve lived in this is the case. It extends beyond nurses and doctors. The general public have a very poor opinion of EMS. They also don’t think about EMS until they need an ambulance. Fire service and Law enforcement have great PR machines. EMS is too busy chasing it’s own tail. There are a few ambulance services that understand this: AMR in Alameda County, Wake County, NC and Western Eagles County, CO. There might be others, I’d love to hear more PR stories where EMS is reaching out to the public.  I’m looking at all the EMS Chiefs, CEOs, Operations Managers wondering what you are doing to promote your service to the people you serve? I bet you could be doing a lot more. Start today. Right now, put an idea on paper.

Where are we going? We cannot move beyond the present state until we decide where we want to be tomorrow, next year, next decade.


About Joel

I am a paramedic, firefighter and I work for an organ procurement organization. All stories related to work have been altered to HIPPA standards and for the protection of those involved. The personal stories are different. Photography, flying, aviation, hiking, camping, travel, geocaching, amateur radio are a few of my hobbies.
This entry was posted in EMS, EMS 2.0, paramedic. Bookmark the permalink.

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