Administration and Leadership, Patient Care

FICEMS Gets Down to Work

Six committees formed & projects assigned at second meeting

The Federal Interagency Committee on EMS held its second meeting June 26, drawing high-level government officials into a two-hour meeting where they assigned projects to several federal workgroups.

The Technical Working Group, which formed at the first FICEMS meeting in December 2006, reported on its activities and offered several recommendations. The TWG, which has met three times since December, includes 15 representatives of federal agencies, including NHTSA EMS Chief Drew Dawson; Jon Krohmer, MD, the Department of Homeland Security_s deputy chief medical officer; Rick Hunt, MD, director of the CDC Division of Injury Response; Sandy Bogucki, MD, and David Marcozzi, MD, senior medical specialists with the HHS office of Office of Preparedness and Emergency Operations; and Acting U.S. Fire Administrator Charles Dickinson. It also includes the single non-federal employee on FICEMS, Maryland EMS Director Bob Bass, MD, who fills the seat Congress designated for a state EMS director.„

Some recommendations were that FICEMS support:

„΄Performance of a comprehensive national EMS assessment;„

„΄Implementation of the National EMS Information System; and

„΄Development of a prehospital EMS evidence-based practice guidelines process.

The TWG suggested amending its method of operations to allow it to also serve as a forum for day-to-day coordination of federal EMS programs and to request advice and recommendations from the newly forming National EMS Advisory Council.

FICEMS members are currently considering some 400 nominations for members of the new advisory council, and Dawson said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters should announce in August who will fill the 26 available slots.

The TWG also recommended the creation of subcommittees, which happened at the June meeting. ˙They divided the technical working group into six subcommittees with chairs and co-chairs for each group and with specific projects,Ó said Kurt Krumperman, Rural/Metro_s senior vice president for government affairs, who attended as an observer.„

Dan Kavanaugh, director of the HHS/Health Care Research and Services Administration_s EMS for Children Program, and NHTSA EMS Specialist Susan McHenry, will lead the new TWG Data and Research committee, which has several charges, including to analyze the gaps in EMS research and research funding.

Hunt from CDC and Krohmer from DHS lead the new Medical Oversight Committee, which will coordinate medical oversight of federal EMS activities, medical review of federal EMS grant guidance and opportunities to use federal support to enhance state and local medical direction.„

NHTSA_s Dawson and someone (as yet unnamed) from the Federal Communications Commission will lead the 9-1-1 and Medical Communications Committee, which has several assignments, among them to develop strategies to improve the interface between 9-1-1 and the medical community and to increase the participation of 9-1-1 officials in government programs and activities.„

Maryland EMS Director Bass and Bogucki from HHS will chair the Preparedness Committee, which will, among other things, develop and identify EMS preparedness competencies and standards, and ˙develop standards, as appropriate.Ó

Mike Zanker, MD, from DHS and David Boyd, MD, from HHS Indian Health Services lead the Assessment Committee to oversee the national EMS assessment.

Dawson explained that the assessment will take part in two phases: ˙The first will use existing data to describe the current status of EMS in the United States and to identify what we don_t know about the provision of EMS. The second part is more long-term and will include developing national performance benchmarks and indicators.Ó A NHTSA-led project has already begun working to develop such benchmarks and performance indicators, and he said the project would build on the current effort.„

˙We need to see where we are, where we want to go and what we need to do to get there,Ó Dawson said. ˙Once you_ve identified objective needs, you can attach dollar amounts to those needs.Ó„

All six committees, each of which include representatives of several federal agencies, are charged with ensuring coordination among agencies on EMS projects and concerns.

˙This will be a lot of work, but we_re really excited about it,Ó Dawson said of the FICEMS committee plans.

Another observer, Gregg Lord, co-investigator of the National EMS Preparedness Initiative and associate director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, noted that nearly every seat at the meeting was filled with the high-level officials mandated by Congress to sit on FICEMS. ˙It_s good to see that the members of FICEMS showed up,Ó he said.„

Although only federal employees can serve on FICEMS workgroups (with the exception of one state EMS director), the group recognized ˙the importance of including EMS providers in those working groups,Ó Lord said. A possible solution, according to Lord: ˙[The Department of Health and Human Services] said we have DMAT [Disaster Medical Assistant Teams], which includes a lot of EMS people,Ó who become federal employees by being on DMAT.

˙I think the group is working as diligently as possible with little or no money,Ó Lord said. ˙Congress gave [it] a mandate but no fiscal wherewithal, so it_s hard to get work done.Ó

Notice of the June 26 meeting appeared in the June 19 Federal Register, but the EMS community did not receive any other notice of the meeting, which drew only a handful of observers.„

˙Next time, we will do a better job of advertising the FICEMS meeting,Ó Dawson said. The next meeting should occur in December. Meanwhile, he said, ˙The TWG and committees will keep working at least monthly to keep up the momentum.Ó„

Download the handouts for the June 26 FICEMS meeting below.