This article is sponsored by Ferno’s 2020 Vision series.
Personnel involved in EMS safety gathered at Ferno's Wilmington, Ohio, headquarters on Monday, Feb. 25, to discuss the latest draft of the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) Strategy for a National EMS Culture of Safety document , which is scheduled for finalization and distribution in September.
The project is being produced under a cooperative agreement between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with support from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) EMS for Children (EMSC) Program, and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).
The Strategy for a National EMS Culture of Safety document includes the following executive summary:
EMS operations nationwide potentially expose EMS personnel, patients and members of the community to preventable risk of serious harm, in contrast with advances in safety practices that have been broadly implemented in many healthcare and other settings in recent years.
Safety culture refers to a collection of core values related to EMS personnel and patient safety. These core values provide a frame of reference for leadership and workers, and influence shared beliefs, practices, rituals, norms and behaviors related to safety. A positive safety culture is associated with fewer errors, adverse events and other negative safety outcomes.
This Strategy stems from a 2009 recommendation by the National Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council (NEMSAC) for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to create a strategy for building a culture of safety in EMS. NEMSAC is a Federal advisory committee that serves as a nationally recognized council of EMS representatives and consumers to provide advice and recommendations regarding EMS to NHTSA.
The Strategy has been developed in a three-year, iterative process to allow for collaboration and input from a broad group of stakeholders both inside and outside the EMS community.
The process has involved public review and comment and will be completed in September 2013.The Strategy acknowledges the unique and varied nature of EMS provider agencies throughout the U.S., as well as a number of cultural influencers that are believed to be relevant to the success of the Strategy.
This Strategy envisions six key elements for advancing a culture of safety in EMS:
The Strategy is also linked to a number of concrete steps that can be taken by a broad spectrum of stakeholders, some of them possibly even before the Strategy is finalized.
To download the latest version of the NEMSAC - Strategy for a National EMS Culture of Safety document in pdf format, click here.
Advancing the Discussion
Building on the draft NEMSAC document, JEMS Editor-in-Chief A.J. Heightman moderated an in-depth panel on EMS safety and changes that are forecast for EMS in the U.S. as part of the comprehensive EMS 2020 Vision initiative sponsored by Ferno.
The EMS 2020 Vision program is a multi-faceted, comprehensive program designed by Ferno and being implemented in a cooperative effort between Ferno, JEMS and EMS World to educate and inform EMS agencies and their personnel on myriad topics. Agencies and personnel are encouraged to join the EMS 2020 Vision Project, watch the EMS Culture of Safety panel discussion and other important EMS 2020 Vision interviews, and learn more about innovations and changes in EMS at:
Participating in the informative EMS Culture of Safety discussion and panel were:
Topics discussed by the EMS Culture of Safety panel included:
Risk & EMS
Factors that create risk in EMS include:
The panel discussed how serious these risks are in EMS; the impact of lax safety practices on providers, patients and the community; and the issues that need to be addressed to reduce these risks and the need for EMS managers and crew to adopt an EMS Culture of Safety.
National EMS Culture of Safety Project
Participants in the discussion also touched on the National EMS Culture of Safety Project--what it is, who the stakeholders are and what issues are addressed in the project. They explored the three important domains the project covers (EMS responder safety, patient safety and community safety) as well as parallel projects from other organizations that have been effective.
Applications from Other Industries
The solutions that lead to greater safety in EMS will likely be strongly influenced by other industries. The panel identified two main areas that EMS can look to as it attempts to build and advance a Culture of Safety:
The panel reflected on what these systems have done that has been so successful, what these examples can teach EMS, and how we must learn and adapt.
Forecast for Change
Envisioning an environment of greater safety is just the first step; any meaningful progress must be accompanied by concrete steps to make such change happen. The panel discussed what some of these changes might be, as well as what commitment will be needed by the manufacturers of the equipment and vehicles we use in the field. Panel members identified administrative, workforce, traditional-thinking and budgetary barriers we must overcome to change, and the stakeholders we need to influence.
The final topic of discussion: Where we should strive to be by 2020? By bringing together experts like those who served on this panel, Ferno's 2020 Vision program will continue to shape an answer to that question.
Join the Movement
Take action by Joining the EMS 2020 Vision Program! Participate in the discussions on how to make the EMS industry safer, tell us what your agency is doing to make your work environment safer and contribute to positive changes in the EMS safety culture in the USA. Visit www.EMS2020Vision.com today!