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Leadership/Management

Strengthening Our Diversity to Better Reflect the Nation’s EMS Workforce

This Message from the President appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of NAEMT News.

Since its inception in 1975, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians has served as the only national professional organization representing EMS practitioners from all service delivery models including municipal and county agencies, public utilities, fire departments, hospital-based ambulance services, private companies, industrial and special operations services, and in the military.

We are justifiably proud of this heritage. We have always believed that diversity in the types of delivery models at which our members work contributes to our strength and, in fact, this belief is one of our association’s core values.

In her final speech as NAEMT President in 2012, Connie Meyer noted that her encounters with our members across the country had reinforced for her that “the core strength of our association has always been and will continue to be our members.”

She noted that “we are strong because we are diverse. Diversity is a hallmark of our membership. We come from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. We serve in a variety of different environments. We serve in different types of EMS agencies. This diversity gives NAEMT the perspective and flexibility to meet the evolving needs of our profession. And, our diversity strengthens our association within the wider EMS community.”

Her words resonated with me and I remembered them when I took office as NAEMT president on January 1, 2015. One of my goals as president is to strengthen our diversity, particularly within our association’s leadership. But first, let me say that those members who have been serving in elected positions on the NAEMT Board of Directors, or in assignments as committee members or coordinators for our education or advocacy programs are doing exemplary, often extraordinary work on behalf of the association. Their contributions are deeply appreciated.

Seeking Up and Coming Leaders

However, in considering appointments for 2015, I did note the lack of diversity within our leadership ranks. Although we consistently invite all of our members to become actively involved in association activities, it occurred to me that perhaps, this was not enough. Perhaps, members who may be women, ethnically and/or racially diverse, or LGBT, may not believe that our invitation is genuine because they cannot see people like themselves reflected in our leadership.

At a time of rapid change in our industry, we need to make sure that NAEMT is seen as an organization that welcomes a broad range of perspectives and experiences. Only by doing so will we be able to capture the breadth of ideas and energy of all of our EMS colleagues.

Taking Action to Ensure All Practitioners Feel Welcome

With full and unequivocal support and assistance from my fellow Board members and NAEMT Headquarters staff, I identified and invited qualified members with diverse backgrounds to serve on NAEMT’s committees and as advocacy and education coordinators. I am pleased to report that almost all of our committees and working groups now include a diversity of members.

This is a good start, but it is by no means sufficient. Our association must reach out to diverse communities throughout our nation to welcome their EMS practitioners to NAEMT and demonstrate that there are leadership “seats at the table” open and available to them.

Calling on All NAEMT Members to Help

I will continue to work to find more members from diverse backgrounds who wish to actively contribute to our association. I challenge each of you to step up and get more active in an NAEMT leadership position. Make sure that every one of your co-workers is aware of NAEMT membership, its value to their professional development, and the value that our association places on each individual within the EMS profession.

It is very true—we are strong because we are diverse. So, please help me make our organization even stronger by ensuring that everyone in EMS feels welcome in NAEMT.

 Conrad T. (Chuck) Kearns MBA, Paramedic, A-EMD, is president of NAEMT.

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