EMS has always been the forefront of medicine, delivering care to the sick and injured in various roles dating as far back as the Civil War.
It has come a long way from the days of horse and buggy. Yet, where are we going now?
One look at the history of nursing indicates the trajectory of EMS. When nursing first started, the profession was comprised of caring women who were viewed and treated as indentured servants, subservient to the male dominated physicians. Nursing evolved when the “servant” became educated. What followed were thousands of women beginning to diagnose, conduct research and improve outcomes in the healthcare field. Soon thereafter, they broke free of the care assistant model they were in. I see EMS following the same path.
We started out as transporters, with a curriculum adopted and funded by the Department of Transportation. We have roots in DOT, PD, FD and the military, but are truly physician extenders that should be firmly rooted in the Health Department. EMS is now developing a language, doing research, obtaining national accreditation for our schools, even supporting continuing education with CAPCE. But we need to do more.
Outreach will help accomplish what many have started. We need to consider the picture the public has of EMS, especially when we have overlooked self-promotion for decades.
The future of our profession
Let’s be the ones who show the public what EMS is and is capable of. I look forward to EMS education mirroring, “The Georgia Trauma Commission,” which collaborated with the Georgia Society of the American College of Surgeons and the Georgia Committee on Trauma to create the “Stop the Bleed” campaign. This inspiring crusade is designed to train school teachers, nurses and staff across the state on how to render immediate and potentially life-saving medical aid to injured students and co-workers while waiting for professional responders to arrive. This type of training gives us face time with the public so they can learn what we do and what we do not.
One of the other important outreach programs to help us in this endeavor is the Community Paramedic Program. We are seeing this education transform EMS into new and exciting roles in the community. “First responders frequently respond to calls for social services. So, the emergency responders may know of people who need some sort of services or resources,” Todd Babbitt, a former fire chief, said. “This team could help connect those people with the services they need. It’s about getting everybody to work together and communicate.”
What we can do is start to get EMS in front of the public. Teach. And open our historically closed doors to the folks that make it easier to do our jobs. Educate others and learn together how our roles are changing modern day healthcare while embracing the change. Otherwise we risk being left in the dust by our progressive healthcare brethren.