Operations, Patient Care

What Should EMS Do about Going Green?

Issue 4 and Volume 36.

Green Debate
Readers had a lot to say on the JEMS Facebook page in response to this month’s online Research Review column by David Page, MS, NREMT-P, which discussed the environmental implications of EMS, particularly the effects of diesel fuel used in ambulances (“How Green Are We?”) Although some feel it’s important to consider the carbon footprint of EMS, others think there are more pressing issues to tackle. Also, readers relate to the latest editorial by Editor-in-Chief A.J. Heightman, MPH, EMT-P, (“Tears for a Baby,” March JEMS), which described how a traumatic experience in the field continues to haunt him years later.

With so many services, especially fire departments, still purchasing large vehicles that consume a significant volume of petroleum products, as well as continuing the practice of posting running vehicles on street corners while waiting for calls, I don’t imagine we’ll see less use of diesel fuel any time soon. Now let’s see how many batteries EMS uses and continues to dispose of every year…
Mike O’Reilley
Via Facebook

While I agree that all Americans should be stewards of the land and reduce oil consumption when possible, why don’t we not worry about actual important issues, such as low-cost alternate energy, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, crew safety and health, welfare reform and advancement of EMS practitioners in healthcare? We should stop worrying about these fictitious “carbon footprints” and focus on the real issues.
Rex Hartfield
Via Facebook

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions that affect the environment is a concern to all of us. There are ways to reduce carbon emissions. Concrete solutions can result in tons of savings of carbon dioxide over the life of the ambulance. Demers Ambulances, for example, has a Type I-II-III ambulance based on an improved aerodynamic roof design that has a significant effect on the drag coefficient, which results in important fuel savings (more than 12% for a Type II), and therefore on carbon emissions.
Genevieve Dion
Via Facebook

The fact that a lot of people in EMS are still in denial about global warming shows that we have a long way to go about this. If the evidence that’s already there (assuming you’ve actually looked at it) doesn’t convince you, then what evidence will?
Mwamba Mann Mwila 
Via Facebook

Lasting Emotions

I have 38 years on the line and have many demons that haunt me. I don’t talk about it because I have fear of what 38 years would look like if it came out all at once. For most of my time in EMS, we had no critical incident stress management courses, nor did we understand that each bad call takes away a small piece of each of us.

The editorial “Tears for a Baby” really hit home for me. As I read, I could see, smell and hear things from my past. After I got past the emotions, I thought about what it takes to write in such a way as to evoke such strong emotions in the reader. Very well done. Keep up the good work.
Vincent T. Gildone

The article hits very close to home. We here at North American Fire Fighters Veteran Network know that the calls we attend to are increasingly taking their toll on the inner sanctum of our hearts and souls. The blood, sweat and fears we face daily on the frontlines, along with the major trauma calls we attend to in motor vehicle accidents, technical rescues or the constant daily grind of runs out onto the streets, have produced many inner wounds, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. These wounds last a lifetime.

I found this article to be sensitively and compassionately well written. Good job to A.J. at getting it out there and sharing this story with the front lines.
Shannon H. Pennington 
Via JEMS.com

The January JEMS cover was attributed to the wrong photographer. The photographer for the photo on the January JEMS cover is Michael Langford. We apologize for the error. JEMS

This article originally appeared in April 2011 JEMS as “Letters.”