In April, a small group of EMS managers, educators and providers from Australia, Canada, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States gathered in Ottawa, Canada, to discuss the future of EMS.
The Paramedic G5 meeting, organized by Minnesota-based Gary Wingrove and Mike Nolan of Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, ended with the general consensus that the design, delivery and application of systems that use paramedics and other emergency medical providers must become a global expedition in order to meet the current and future needs of the populations they serve.
"We don't have an identity as a profession," says G5 participant Matt Womble, MHA, EMT-P, rural hospital and EMS specialist in the North Carolina Office of Rural Health and Community Care in Raleigh. "All around the country, some of us use National Registry, some don't. If you ask the general public who shows up when they call 9-1-1, you get any number of answers: paramedics, firefighters, emergency workers, ambulance drivers.
"There are regions of Canada that have made a concerted effort to identify the people who work in an ambulance as paramedic, whether it's a primary care paramedic, which are EMT-Basics in the U.S., or advanced care paramedics, which is our version," says Womble. "The beauty of that is they can umbrella everyone under one term that everyone understands. People are becoming more educated about what they want in terms of their healthcare response, and that's a goal we should seek nationally and internationally."
Following the example of other systems, the group determined they should advocate for the adoption and common use of the following terms:
- The Paramedic is the professional practitioner
- A Paramedic Service is the provider of EMS staffed by paramedics
- Paramedicine is the discipline and the area of medical study and knowledge.
In order to initiate the adoption of these terms, it was agreed that the term "Paramedic" must include all practitioners from basic to advanced life support responders as a starting point from which all providers can be educated to meet their expected role and give the public one name associated with the profession.
During the course of the meeting, the International Paramedic group was formed as a means of initiating discussion among international communities, teaching institutions and associations with the potential for international collaboration in areas like curriculum, research, evidence-based medicine and protocols. "International Paramedic is not about solving all of the world's problems," says Womble. "It's about getting together the best minds from all levels of emergency response to share ideas and start to build a visionary system of networks and resources and pilot programs."
To sum up, the objectives of International Paramedic are:
- Act as a global convener of paramedics
- Serve as a singular voice for paramedic and medical responder practice to international governing bodies, health and relief organizations in order to positively influence global and domestic health policy and practice
- Provide a location where standards can be accessed and shared from services and nations around the world in the hopes of moving toward mutual, evidence-based design, deployment and care of paramedic services around the world
- Establish intra-professional committees to establish education, safety, professional and equipment standards that will benefit the international community.
International Paramedic will not have a physical address or headquarters, but will exist solely as a virtual entity through conference calls, webinars or other methods of communication and through its website: internationalparamedic.org. There is also a Facebook account for International Paramedic and a Twitter account at IParamedic.