How First Aid Classes Can Enhance the Public’s Understanding of EMS
By Allison G. S. Knox, EMT-B, Faculty Member at American Military University
Across the United States, many individuals receive first aid training so they are equipped to handle basic emergencies. For example, an average person could learn to manage significant bleeding from an injury or provide assistance during cardiac arrest. Ultimately, very basic first aid skills can be enough to save lives and allow an individual to render care while waiting for trained medical personnel to arrive.
First aid classes are the public’s main source of training for emergency care. In addition to training, first aid classes are also opportunities for first aid and CPR instructors to educate their students about emergency medical services (EMS). It is important that the public is aware of how the structure of EMS – and the overall emergency system – is organized.
Currently EMS is a widely misunderstood system. Many jurisdictions and ambulance companies deal with numerous incidents where individuals call 9-1-1 for non-emergent issues. This happens on a regular basis because many individuals in local towns and cities do not have a strong grasp of what EMS involves. First aid courses are a great time for instructors to highlight the overall hierarchical structure of EMS and explain how protocols affect EMS in various jurisdictions.
The cliché saying “knowledge is power” is essential to EMS. If we can spark the interest of individuals taking first aid classes by explaining just what is involved in an EMS system, this can make a big difference in the public relations of EMS as a whole. If people understood more about how the system worked, they may also be more willing to advocate and support EMS when their local government requests additional funding in their budget.
If an emphasis is placed on explaining EMS in first aid classes, it will help increase the public’s fundamental awareness and appreciation of emergency services, which could have a positive impact on policy development throughout the United States.
About the Author: Allison G. S. Knox is on the faculty at American Military University. An emergency medical technician and a political scientist, Allison’s research interests are comprised of federalism and emergency management/emergency medical services policy issues. Prior to teaching, Allison worked in a level one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master of arts degrees in emergency management, international relations, national security studies and history. She also holds a graduate certificate in homeland security, a bachelor of arts in political science and is working on her doctorate. Allison currently serves as the Chapter Sponsor and Faculty Adviser for the West Virginia Iota Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, is the Faculty Advisor for the Political Science Scholars and also serves as the Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society.