Clinton, Miss. In a new position statement, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) states its commitment to advocating for fair and equitable pay and benefits for EMS practitioners on parity with their partners in public safety and other allied health care services.
EMS was built on a primarily volunteer-practitioner base to provide basic life support to the sick and injured. Over the past 45 years, EMS has evolved, expanding its scope of responsibilities from the basic level of care provided by primarily volunteers to a highly trained and increasingly career-based workforce. As the overall population increases and grows older, EMS services have become in higher demand. Funding for development of EMS and support for volunteers has largely disappeared over the years, with career services becoming more prevalent. As the roles and responsibilities and advances in prehospital medical care have increased, the educational requirements for EMS practitioners also have grown.
Today, throughout the United States, people rely on the quick actions and professional, competent care provided by emergency medical technicians and paramedics. EMS practitioners are required to respond to varied incident types in often dangerous and austere environments, providing a vital medical service caring for the nation s sick and injured 24-hours a day. However, wages and benefits have not increased to enable the EMS workforce to grow in accordance with the ever-increasing public demand for EMS services. The pay of EMTs and paramedics is significantly less overall than that of law enforcement, firefighters and other allied healthcare occupations. Recruitment and retention are significantly affected within the EMS profession, creating a chronic shortage in communities across the nation, particularly in rural areas. Due to the rising cost of living and increased educational requirements, compounded with stagnant wages and benefits, EMS practitioners are being forced to migrate to other professions that provide adequate wages, benefits and the opportunity for advancement.
One of the common themes we hear from our NAEMT members is the lack of equitable pay for many in our profession, says Jerry Johnston, Immediate Past President of NAEMT and Chair of its Advocacy Committee. For years now, the demands placed on our practitioners far outweigh commensurate pay. NAEMT felt it our obligation to take a stance in support of fair and equitable pay and benefits for not only our members but all EMS practitioners.
Formed in 1975 and today more than 30,000 members strong, NAEMT is the nation s only association representing the professional interests of all EMS practitioners, including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, first responders and other professionals working in pre-hospital emergency medicine. NAEMT members work in all sectors of EMS, including government service agencies, fire departments, hospital-based ambulance services, private companies, industrial and special operations settings, and in the military.