Generally, as most professions and disciplines evolve and grow, a certain homogeneity develops among its members or constituent parts: Practices become increasingly standardized, organizational efficiencies become more streamlined, resources become more reliable, and society, as a whole, establishes reasonable expectations.
Although EMS is still a relatively new profession compared with other health-care disciplines, we've seen increased standardization across the nation. This can largely be attributed to major developments in legislation and industry regulations, improved managerial practices, focused insight from research and operational studies and enhanced revenue sources.
Nonetheless, functional differences remain among many EMS systems across the country. Influences that create these differences come in many forms and magnitudes. Some are widespread (e.g., homeland security and preparedness, biological and chemical agents of aggression, federal reimbursement standards) and some are more local (e.g., changes in operational managers or medical directors, increased competition, population changes). Understanding current and prospective trends within the EMS profession and the reasons they're evolving is important to ensure the development and prosperity of our individual organizations.
The JEMS' 2002 "200-City Survey" serves as an excellent instrument to assess our progress as a profession and to enable each individual agency to compare its own performance and practices with those of some of the largest and best-established organizations nationwide. As you read through this article, compare your organization's practices with those in this report. Examine how you might modify your current practices and improve performance.
The information presented here was collected from 214 agencies that provide service to 200 of the most populous U.S. cities.