Phil Politano, public information officer and manager of community education for the last 10 years in Rural/Metro Medical Services in Syracuse, is hanging up his own shingle in nearby Liverpool, NY, to consult with EMS agencies and help them improve their relationships with both the media and the public.
Politano points out that “the media” is a much broader entity than the old news outlet. In fact, it encompasses all the methods the public uses to get information.
“Good media relations and good community relations” go hand in hand, he says. “It’s all about relationships. If EMS agencies could get used to being as responsive to the media—and proactive—as we are to emergencies, we would have a much higher profile, which would lead to better funding.
“A lot of people think we’re still back in the 1960s, when our sole responsibility was to throw somebody on a stretcher and drive as fast as we could to the hospital. Our ability to solve patients’ problems has improved so much—and continues to improve—but I don’t think we’ve been able to tell that story.”
To that end, The Politano Group: Emergency Management Simplified is working with agencies to help them increase their media profile, as well as their visibility within the community.
“It can be complicated,” Politano says, but with “good advice, experience and instruction,” agencies can use the media to educate people about the importance of EMS to them, as well as their responsibility to the emergency system.
“The public should understand the difficulties we face with funding and continually training to stay up-to-date, and also that they are part of the solution, too, when it comes to dealing with patients—like learning CPR or simply remembering to yield when an emergency vehicle approaches,” Politano says.
Politano is an award-winning media specialist, recognized by the Syracuse Press Club last year as News Source of the Year, and twice-named as Best News Source for his website designs and television specials aired on local media outlets. He is currently working with a Syracuse-area community college to develop curriculum for its emergency management degree program, as well as with businesses and EMS agencies in developing emergency and crisis management plans.