Editor's note: For more on the debate over a federal EMS entity, read ˙Empowerment Ends Bias,Ó (From the Editor), and ˙Who's on the Mark? Controversy surrounds EMS pursuit of equal resources, priority & focus in Congress,Ó in June 2005JEMS.
Almost 3,000 members of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) participated in the association_s EMS and the Federal Government survey conducted in May, and 92 percent of respondents said EMS is not adequately represented in the federal government. Ninety-five percent agreed there should be a federal EMS entity ƒ a counterpart to the fire service_s U.S.Fire Administration.
Survey respondents said the most valuable services a federal EMS entity could provide would be ˙establishing and administering national safety standards for protection of EMS providersÓ and ˙establishing and administering an annual operational EMS grant system similar to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.Ó
NAEMT President Ken Bouvier says, ˙The survey Ú tells us that our members want the federal government to do more to fund EMS and help EMS prepare to respond to major disasters.Ó The survey supports NAEMT_s position that the country needs a consolidated, single, high-level federal EMS agency ƒ something fire and police already have. TheInstitute of Medicine also recommends a ˙lead agency for emergency and trauma.Ó
It will take an act of Congress to create a federal EMS agency. NAEMT concedes that may not happen soon, so it_s committed to continuing support for the Office of EMS in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS). Less than 50 percent of survey respondents knew enough about either the Office of EMS or FICEMS to comment on their effectiveness.
˙I value the work of the NHTSA EMS Office and all the people associated with its efforts,Ó Bouvier says. ˙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.Ó
Another item of note from the survey is how EMS workers characterize themselves: 93 percent felt they were health-care providers; 85 percent, public safety responders; and 73 percent, public health workers. This varied view of how EMS fits into the community parallels the diverse opinions about the appropriateness of a separate federal EMS agency and whether EMS is better served under NHSTA or the Department of Homeland Security.
Ann-Marie Lindstrom, a regular contributor to JEMS, writes primarily about EMS- and health-related subjects.