Clinton, MS – An overwhelming majority of EMS professionals responding to a recent survey agree that Congress should establish a federal EMS entity similar to the US Fire Administration that would raise the profile of emergency medical services (EMS) in the nation’s capitol and improve federal response to large-scale disasters.
But respondents to the survey conducted by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) were evenly divided about whether EMS workers should be categorized as healthcare providers, public safety responders and/or public health workers.
Of the close to 3,000 NAEMT members who responded to the survey, 93 percent agreed that EMS workers are healthcare providers, 85 percent agreed that they are public safety responders and 73 percent agreed that they are public health workers.
“These survey findings show that our members recognize their role in the healthcare continuum,” said NAEMT President Ken Bouvier. “The survey also tells us that our members want the federal government to do more to fund EMS and help EMS prepare to respond to major disasters.”
Ninety-two percent of respondents said that EMS is not currently adequately represented in the federal government, and 95 percent said that a federal EMS entity similar to the US Fire Administration would benefit EMS providers.
These findings support NAEMT’s position that there is a need for the consolidation of a single, high-level federal EMS agency on par with fire and police, Bouvier said.
“Now we just have to see how Congress is going to respond to the recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and see if they are going to move forward with the creation of a lead agency for emergency and trauma, as recommended in the report,” he said. “NAEMT members have spoken, and they recognize that the current situation is inadequate. It’s up to the politicians in Washington to do something about it, and we certainly hope that what they do results in more recognition and funding for EMS.”
NHTSA and FICEMS
While it supports a more effective federal presence for EMS, NAEMT recognizes that the creation of a single, high-level federal EMS agency demands action by Congress, which may not occur in the near future. As a result, NAEMT has committed to supporting the current Office of EMS in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the leadership by that office of the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS).
When asked about these entities, 55 percent of survey respondents said that they do not know enough about the EMS office within NHTSA to make a determination as to its effectiveness. Of those who responded to the question, 20 percent said that they viewed NHTSA EMS activities favorably, and 25 percent had an unfavorable opinion of past activities by the NHTSA EMS office.
When asked if they thought that FICEMS was an effective way to provide EMS representation in the federal government, 59 percent said that they don’t know anything about FICEMS, 20 percent said that FICEMS was effective, and 21 percent disagreed that FICEMS was effective.
“I value the work of the NHTSA EMS Office and all the people associated with its efforts,” Bouvier said. “We’re hoping that we can build on the foundation that NHTSA created from 1966 to today, and propel EMS to an even brighter future. I am grateful that the IOM decided to focus on EMS and emergency care and hope that this report will focus the nation’s attention on EMS and the important role it plays in the well-being of our communities.”
Respondents also were asked to rate the value of activities for which a federal EMS entity might be responsible. Topping the list as most valuable were “establishing and administering national safety standards for protection of EMS providers” and “establishing and administering an annual operational EMS grant system similar to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.”
The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) is the world’s largest international membership association for EMTs, Paramedics and other professionals working in pre-hospital emergency medicine.