Two weeks ago was the now infamous mid-term elections that saw the dethroning of Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker and claims of a public referendum against the health care reforms enacted by the administration. I’m generally not one to buy into political propaganda without some hard data because we all know politicians and their parties will say practically anything to get to power. In the days after there were two stories that appeared in JEMS that seemed to indicate that there was possibly truth in that claim.
The first story is about a PA Volunteer Corps that was voted out of fiscal existence. You can read the story from JEMS here. Now truthfully there have been long standing allegations of corruption and mismanagement with the leadership, so the agency leadership does not have a glowing reputation. What I found most disturbing was this quote from the article with my own added emphasis:
A township board member said he’s disappointed with the voter results. “People didn’t realize how important saving lives is. And having service locally to make it more effective and less time,” said Township Secretary Michael Stirr.
–Election Results Shut Down Pennsylvannia Ambulance, JEMS, 11/04/2010
So if the people (who’s lives are actually the ones we are talking about possibly saving) don’t realize how important it is to save lives than who’s fault is that? Is it their fault for not realizing the value an EMS system represents or is it our fault for not effectively communicating it to them? No matter who’s fault it is, the outcome is disturbing for those of us who anticipate a future for EMS.
The second story is about a MD County Ambulance Fee denied by voters that will probably result in a reduction of services. You can read the story from JEMS here and there is an associated video report here. What’s striking about this story is that the ambulance fee was directed at insurance companies, not the individual patients in the form of a charge or the residents in the form of an additional fee or tax.
There was definitely some opposition that seemed to be led by volunteers who claimed that the ambulance fee would increase insurance rates. Now this may have caused a fiscal concern, but when faced with the prospect of a reduction in services that were currently in place doesn’t it seem that should take precedence? In short what the community did, in my mind and probably those of fellow EMS professionals, was vote to take a step backward. In their minds they probably just saved themselves some money with no understanding of the actual effect the change will have.
I think both these stories are illustrations that those who we need to educate about the changes we want to see in EMS are the stakeholding public. Without their support we will not be able to effect true change in EMS.
Do you think these two stories indicative of the nature of the rest of the country when it comes to EMS? How would you communicate to the public the changes we need to have happen in EMS?