The Future of EMS in 2050

ESO Staff

What will EMS look like 33 years from now? That’s the question that the National Office of EMS is asking the national EMS community, from the biggest municipal systems to the smallest volunteer departments, via the recently-kicked-off EMS Agenda 2050 Project.

At ESO, we believe in working side-by-side as a partner to the EMS profession, rather than simply being a vendor to it. As a company and as individuals, we care about the future of the EMS profession. With those thoughts in mind, I recently was honored to join a group of nearly 100 EMS and fire chiefs, medical directors, supervisors and EMTs and paramedics gathered in Silver Spring, MD, for the first of four regional meetings to gather input and ideas to develop a new “EMS Agenda for the Future” plan to guide the profession for the next three decades.

Should you care? If you care about how you’ll do your work in the future — yes, you should care. The prior version of this plan, released in 1996, has been used to set national priorities, procure federal funding and guide policy making at the national level. But virtually everything in the plan also impacts you at the local level. Community paramedicine … NEMSIS … even the idea of connecting EMS and other data systems – including sharing outcomes – all appear in the 1996 plan.

“We’re doing something that affects the entire country. The more people involved, the better the vision we’ll be able to develop.”

Work on the plan for the next three decades actually kicked off several months ago, when a small Technical Expert Panel (TEP) began working on a “straw man” — basically, a sketch of what the plan might cover, based on input from both inside and outside EMS. The next step is to present the straw man to EMS stakeholders nationwide (hint: that’s you) for feedback and ideas. (See this schedule for upcoming meetings in regions around the country, or read the straw man document here and submit your feedback for consideration.)

As for the feedback meeting itself, it was inspiring to see how deeply engaged members of the EMS community – people like you – were in taking control of creating our future. It was also inspiring to see how closely the TEP members listened to feedback, ideas and questions.

The project’s facilitator, Mike Taigman, echoed these thoughts to me as the meeting broke up, and he also emphasized the importance of contributing ideas. “We’re doing something that affects the entire country,” he told me. “The more people involved, the better the vision we’ll be able to develop.”

I commented to Mike that I’d heard a lot of promising ideas and important concerns from the group (and perhaps voiced a few myself), but in my view, one of the key themes for the future of EMS involves data — taking charge of it, sharing it, expecting it to be shared with us, understanding what it means, and using that information to create better outcomes for patients.

“Sharing data between EMS and other segments of healthcare has to be woven throughout all of this,” he responded. “And not just collecting it – the information has to be available when and where you need it.”

If you agree – or if you have other ideas that will help shape the future of our profession – please make your voice heard.

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