Providers Invited to Comment on Culture of Safety Strategy

Safety of both EMS providers and patients was listed as the top priority by the National EMS Advisory Council that urged NHTSA to develop a strategy to address the issue.


It’s now time for EMS personnel across the country to weigh in on the National EMS Culture of Safety strategy.

“This is a high-level strategy document,” explained Jeff Lucia, a partner of The Red Flash Group, hired to produce the project. “This is not a safety manual.”

The public will have until Feb. 24 to comment on the draft that can be found at http://www.emscultureofsafety.org/.

Safety of both EMS providers and patients was listed as the top priority by the National EMS Advisory Council that urged NHTSA to develop a strategy to address the issue.

NHTSA not only accepted the recommendation, but obtained funding to launch the project with support from EMS for Children and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

In accordance with its by-laws, the council will make any comments to NHTSA, not the authors. Members, however, may comment as individuals.

“Throughout the United States, we ask a great deal of our EMS practitioners. We ask them to do their jobs under difficult, unpredictable circumstances... In the course of their work, they may be exposed to risks such as infectious organisms, emotional stress, fatigue, physical violence, occupational injury or death,” said Dr. Craig Manifold, representing ACEP project chair Dr. Sabina Braithwaite.

Included in the document are a number of issues that officials hope will change the way EMS does business.

“This strategy envisions a credible, authoritative and highly visible national organization whose mission is advancing operational and patient safety in emergency medical services nationwide,” according to the draft.

Authors understand changing the culture of EMS won’t occur overnight, but evolve over time. “…EMS is a discipline with dramatic structure and cultural variation, multiple delivery models and levels…”

They continued: “The issue of volunteerism, and its unique (and changing) role in many rural and suburban communities, is also a source of concern, in terms of staffing, motivation and training.”

While other reports and white papers have discussed the safety issue, it has not become a major focus until now.

The strategy calls for the creation of a national council to promote operational and patient safety. Their priorities would include leading the development of standards and methodologies to identify and reduce adverse events in EMS as well as explore incentives to encourage safety.

Lucia said he believes the project is very important to EMS, the patient and the public. To make the document viable, he said it’s imperative that stakeholders stay involved and give input.