The Changing Landscape of Emergency Medical Services
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Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on EDM Digest.
By Allison G. S. Knox, faculty member at American Military University
Almost everyone knows that industries change with the introduction of new technology and alterations in public taste. The healthcare industry is no different. Healthcare is experiencing demands and changes that affect the overall management and administration of the system.
However, emergency medical services have not experienced any real transformations in the past few decades. But changes in the field are coming due to serious difficulties in recruiting individuals to work in both professional and volunteer settings. In fact, the very nature of patient care associated with the Community Paramedicine Model is changing.
Public Safety Agencies Have Trouble Finding Qualified Individuals for Volunteer Work
Many public safety agencies have traditionally relied on volunteers because they cannot afford to pay for staff. There was a time when individuals had more free time to volunteer. But with shifting economic times, it has become increasingly difficult to find qualified volunteers.
As reporter Olivia Belanger found out from a volunteer, “It’s difficult for volunteers to leave their families to go on calls when the local ambulance is paged, maintain the supplies on the ambulances, then be expected to attend trainings and conferences to maintain certifications.”
The Community Paramedicine Model Is Turning EMS into Visiting Nurse Agencies
The Community Paramedicine Model is altering the way municipalities handle emergency medical services. As Rural Health put it, “Community paramedicine is a relatively new and evolving healthcare model. It allows paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to operate in expanded roles by assisting with public health and primary healthcare and preventive services to under-served populations in the community.”
This model is a major national paradigm shift. It lets patients be treated at home with regular visits from healthcare professional. It is changing EMS into something like a visiting nurse agency by keeping some patients out of hospital emergency departments in participating towns and cities.
Emergency medical services will continue to face obstacles that alter their overall structure. As a result, it will be interesting to see how emergency medical services will be transformed over the next few decades with the shifting needs and demands of society.
About the Author: Allison G. S. Knox is a faculty member at American Military University, teaching courses in Emergency and Disaster Management. Her research interests are comprised of emergency management and 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 is a certified lifeguard, EMT and is also trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. Allison currently serves as Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia for NAEMT, Chapter Sponsor for the West Virginia Iota Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, and Faculty Advisor for the Political Science Scholars. She is also on the Board of Trustees and serves as Chancellor of the Southeast Region for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in the Social Sciences. She can be reached at IPSauthor@apus.edu. For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter.
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