EMS Experts Talk About the Future of EMS Certification

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A panel discussion was conducted last month with key contributors to EMS and National EMS Certification including Ray Bias, Drew Dawson, Dr. Marilyn Gifford, Dr. Norman McSwain, Chief Mary Beth Michos, Rocco Morando and Dr. Roger White.

The panelists discussed the most challenging issues facing EMS today, the role national EMS certification plays on the safety and well-being of the American public, and how national certification can contribute to EMS’s future

Speaking on the necessity of national certification, Dr. Roger White said, “When I first became a medical director of an ambulance service, I recognized quickly that if [national certification] was ever going to survive nationwide, we had to have standardized training and examinations. I would not continue to serve as the medical director of the ambulance service if we did not have that vision and if it didn’t become a reality. I saw the NREMT as the organization that could make it happen. I have insisted–and will until I quit–that any paramedic serving under my medical direction will be nationally certified or he or she will not function under my medical direction.” Dr. Marilyn Gifford agreed, saying, “I don’t want to be responsible for people who are not nationally registered.”

Chief Mary Beth Michos discussed the role national certification plays for recognizing EMS providers as a profession. “A lot of our challenges are in the area of workforce–recognizing our EMS providers as a profession on an equal basis along with the nurses, physicians and others in the medical profession. Also in the safety area–there are a lot of dangers out there that our EMTs and Paramedics are faced with. Fortunately, the NREMT has been doing a lot of research in that area so that we can make the profession safer for our people to practice in.”

The ability to test one method against the other was cited as one of the biggest challenges for the future of EMS. Dr. White said that while he served as NREMT Board Chair, he attempted to study patient outcome in order to show “a demonstrable, measurable objective outcome effect.” Because stringent FDA rules currently prevent testing one method against another for patient outcome studies, Dr. McSwain said, “Our greatest challenge is finding a way to test [one method against another.]”

Focusing on the future, Dr. White stated, “I hope that [the NREMT] will be fully unquestionably recognized as THE national certification agency in all 50 states and that in all 50 states all EMS personnel will be required to be nationally certified and nationally recertified.” Following suit, Chief Michos stated, “In ten years [I would hope that] anyone with a NREMT card could go anywhere in the world and have their level of EMS certification recognized.”

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