Recently the Federal Interagency Committee for Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) released the 2011 National EMS Assessment Report. At 550 pages, there is ALOT of data. In the first few pages I noticed an interesting trend that I want to highlight.
The assessment describes the current conditions for:
- 19,971 EMS Agencies
- 81,295 EMS Vehicles
- 826,111 EMS Professionals
Of the 826,111 EMS Professionals:
- 64% are EMT-Basics
- 24% are EMT-Paramedics
- 6% are EMT-Intermediates
I’m not sure what the remaining 6% are. Possibly Emergency Medical Dispachers (EMD), locally certified First Responders, or non-certified personnel thrown into the mix. The important number to note is that almost 2/3 of EMS Professionals are EMT Basics. If that’s the case, why are the vast majority of continuing education, seminars, and conference content skewed heavily towards advanced providers? Why do we provide one path for Basic providers, that of becoming an Advanced provider, for advancement within EMS?
EMS education and the “big” conferences aren’t the only ones guilty of this. Most blogs are also skewed towards the advanced provider. While The EMT Spot, and Everyday EMS Tips offer content applicable for all levels, the majority of blogs also lean towards the advanced provider. EMS Basics and Ambulance Junkie remain (to my knowledge and in my opinion) the only real basic centric blogs out there.
Is being an EMT ranked the 6th worst job because of what we ourselves are failing to do?
Do you wonder why we can’t advance ourselves as a profession? Maybe its because we ignore or minimize 2/3s of our providers. We fail to engage them at their level to keep their current interest and help their progression. Is that a recipe for success? I think not.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
In order for EMS to truly change, we need to rethink about how we go about things. The first step should be to stop tailoring to the minority and address the needs of the majority. Perhaps that takes the form of a change in how we advance basics, how we design continuing education, the type of conference sessions we promote, and the type of content we bloggers create. I view these as the fundamental building blocks of the industry and until we change the development of the foundation, we’ll be unable to change either the design or the delivery.
In order for a change in EMS to be successful, we need to get back to the basics.