Administration and Leadership, Commentary, EMS Today

‘Make Your Voices Heard:’ Introductory Remarks by JEMS Editor Mike McEvoy

Mike McEvoy, PhD, NRP, RN, CCRN

Welcome to EMS Today 2020! I am so glad you could join us in Tampa this year. You are here among family. I hope you take the time not only to attend the educational sessions, look at our research posters, and visit the hundreds of vendors in the exhibit hall but also to network with some of your many brothers and sisters from across the United States and around the world. EMS Today is an unparalleled opportunity to recharge your batteries, learn from the best and brightest in the industry and grow as an EMS professional.

As the Executive Editor of JEMS, I want to talk about where jems.com is headed. Since I assumed the role last year, we have worked to continue to build the legacy of the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, originally started by the late Jim Page in 1976, and more recently under the exceptional leadership of A.J. Heightman.

We’ve instituted peer review of our articles, something our authors most certainly don’t always appreciate, but, as I’m sure you’ve seen and will continue to see, this improves the quality of what we publish. We’re also working to get JEMS back onto PubMed, one of the largest, free full-text archives of biomedical literature in the world, run by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. JEMS has always been referred to as the Conscience of EMS.

To that end, I intend to re-engage JEMS in helping to highlight the rightness and the wrongness in our industry. We are always looking for new authors and photographers. Flag me down this week if you have an interest.

Finally, you’ve probably noticed some new and some returning authors in JEMS, and you most certainly will see and hear from some speakers never before invited to EMS Today because they write or speak for “that other publication or that other conference.” That era has ended. My job at JEMS and here at EMS Today is to connect you with the best and brightest minds, and that is what I intend to do. Period.

The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Every year, for more than 30 years, nurses in the United States have been ranked by the general public as the most trusted professionals, with the exception of 2001, when, following the attack on America, firefighters were ranked most trusted.

In Australia, paramedics are the most trusted profession. Why, in the United States, are nurses are ahead of EMS in the eyes of the public? Well, I’ve never seen a nurse wearing a shirt that says, “My job is to save your ass, not kiss it,” or “In the back of my ambulance, no one can hear you scream.”

Nurses also stick together for the benefit of their profession. When Sen. Maureen Walsh from Washington State said last year that “nurses probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” she received 35,000 phone calls, 10,000 e-mails, and nearly 2,000 decks of cards from irate nurses. And nurses powerfully advocate for their patients.

When The Joint Commission last year started citing hospitals for failing to have specific titration orders for vasoactive medications, which is, by the way, part of the art of nursing practice, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses flooded the Joint Commission with so many e-mails and phone calls that it is rewriting the standard.

Looking out at the audience today, I recognize that you represent the best of EMS. You are the most professional of our profession. Here’s my challenge to each of you. Let’s do whatever it takes to boost the profession of EMS. When you see someone wearing a shirt with an inappropriate slogan or dressed sloppily, let them know their message is not helping build public trust in the EMS profession.

When a public figure refers to us as “ambulance drivers,” he should hear from thousands of us. I know that each of you are out there every day, doing the right thing for your patients. We need to collectively step up our game to make sure all of our EMS colleagues are also strong patient advocates.

I challenge you this coming year to tell your story to the public, make your voices heard. One way to do that is by being a member of a professional association. The National Association of EMTs, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Association of EMS Physicians, your state or local ambulance organizations–pick one and join. By doing so, you support our profession.

I have little doubt that if the American public really came to know and understand what EMS is all about, that we would, like EMS in Australia, be their most trusted profession. Let’s do whatever it takes to get there!