With the majority of the American fire service providing Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is committed to this year’s EMS Week theme – One Mission. One Team. This year’s EMS Week is May 19-25, 2013.
USFA supports the EMS mission through the many training programs delivered at the National Fire Academy (NFA) and the research and data collection activities conducted at the National Fire Data Center. A key focus for us that I would like to discuss is the safety and health of firefighters and EMS responders. With numerous injuries and fatalities to on-duty EMS responders, responder health and safety is a critical issue for both fire departments and third service EMS providers.
Partnering with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs and in conjunction with the International Association of Fire Fighters, USFA is undertaking a study related to EMS responder safety. The findings will be used to revise the content of the following USFA documents: EMS Safety - Techniques and Applications and Guide to Developing and Managing an Emergency Service Infection Control Program.
Since the release of these two documents, there have been many changes and updates in the area of the EMS provider safety and health, including findings from other USFA research efforts in this area. To better serve our constituents, the most up-to-date information regarding EMS responder health and safety will be incorporated into one revised document.
Additionally, with the U.S. Department of Justice/National Institute of Justice, USFA is performing a study of emergent topics in emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety to assist in the development and demonstration of best practices for the emergency services, including EMS.
Both studies are expected to be released later this year.
As a result of USFA’s Reauthorization Act of 2008 that authorized the NFA to provide advanced EMS training, four new courses have been developed: EMS Quality Management, EMS Functions in the Incident Command System, EMS Incident Operations and Hot Topics Research for EMS. EMS examples, references and activities are also included in all other appropriate NFA courses. NFA’s new Leadership Strategies in Community Risk Reduction course is a combined effort for fire prevention and illness/injury prevention through all-risk, all-discipline community risk reduction.
In the spirit of this year’s EMS Week theme, One Mission. One Team., USFA would like to emphasize the number one mission of the EMS team: take every measure to ensure your health and safety, not just for EMS week, but throughout the year.
USFA recognizes the critical importance of EMS provided by fire departments and other agencies and is dedicated to meeting your needs. For additional information regarding our training, research and other efforts to help you with more effective and safer EMS operations, visit the EMS section of the USFA website.