Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Beef With Fire-Based EMS or "This ain't 1976 anymore!"

If you've been following me on Twitter or have known me long enough, you know I'm a fairly opinionated dude. I know that sometimes my opinion may seem wrong, far-fetched or biased in some way. Well, all three of those observations may be fitting for this next subject.

Shortly after the submittal and released of the new EMS White Paper, one of the first entities to pipe up and respond with ideas was...... Yep..... You guessed it.... The IAFF and IAFC. Wait... what?!

Yes, the International Association of FIRE FIGHTERS and the International Association of FIRE CHIEFS. NEMSA woke up, scratched it's ass, had a cup of coffee, smoked two Pall Malls and retorted in an untimely manner, as usual.

Let me make this clear before we go any further - I have NO beef with Firefighters, Chiefs, Recruits, Training Officers, Fire Prevention Officers, Hydrant Testers, Extinguisher-refiller-guys or anyone else even loosely affiliated with fire suppression.


Emergency Medical Services has been in need of a makeover professionally for a LOOOONG time, and this White Paper may be just the thing to light the proverbial fire under some asses. We need to develop an identity for ourselves, whether it be "Public Safety" or "Allied Health" or "Not Just a Meatwagon Anymore", something has to give. The IAFF and IAFC are doing the smart thing... They jumped right in and showed everyone how awesome fire-based EMS can be. Let me translate some of their lines for you, baby birds.

They say: "It's cost effective!"

- Translates to "We need EMS's revenue!"

They say: "We have a large base of EMTs and Paramedics to pull from within our fire departments!"

- Translates to "We have a whole bunch of guys who want to be firemen first and medical providers second for the extra cash."

They say: "Our fire trucks usually beat the ambulances on scene and render first response care anyways!"

- Translates to "Our fire engines don't get used enough to justify their being, so we make medical runs to boost our numbers." (and OBVIOUSLY your city needs more ambulances!)

I'm sure there are plenty of well-organized and medically driven fire-based EMS services around the nation, and I mean no discredit to any of them by saying all of these things. However, it's time for EMS to have a voice for itself. Do I blame the IAFF and IAFC for jumping into the discussion quickly to state their case? Absolutely not. It's the smart thing for THEIR organizations who would be hit the hardest should EMS break out of it's shell.

NEMSA has very little lobbying clout when it comes to big wig politicians in comparison to IAFF. The problem is, the soft-spoken and oft drowned out voice that EMS does have from time to time is so broken up, divided and unorganized that no one voice can be heard. That's why the time to organize and SCREAM "EMS IS..........." is NOW!

Pre-hospital medical care is at a dire and dangerous crossroad right now... Which way do you think we should go?


  1. I agree completely with you. We need to step out of the shadows and take charge of our selves. We need to stop letting the IAFF and IAFC direct where EMS will be in the next 5 years and start choosing for ourselves. I think they(IAFF&IAFC) fear that they will be excluded from EMS and governments will see that they are not optimal budgetary expenses for the limited fire fighting some actually may do. I think there will always be a need for the fire based EMS at some level but they are the minority when it comes to the EMS population. For us as a profession we can't sit by and allow the few to direct/dictate the course for the many.

  2. So very true.

    Any ideas as to what WE can do to make that happen?