The unveiling on September 20 of the full draft of the EMS Agenda 2050 brought to Washington, D.C., a variety of EMS dignitaries, from NHTSA Office of EMS officials to key leaders in the field, from medical directors to EMS providers to hospital administrators. All gathered for the Agenda’s National Implementation Forum in the hallowed atrium halls of the Department of Transportation.
The speakers chosen to share their thoughts during the event stressed the importance of purposeful action to move forward with the Agenda’s principles. They also warned the audience that continuing with the status quo as the norm will impede progress in the EMS industry.
In fact, Bill Atkinson, PhD, a long-time leader in the industry who delivered the keynote address, had few qualms about calling out past EMS practices and stirring the pot of tradition.
Atkinson touched on some controversial topics, including requiring college degrees for paramedics and moving away from long shifts that have proven deleterious effects on providers and patients. Atkinson’s career has spanned decades of innovation and disruption on both the prehospital and hospital sides.
“Progress is about people who take risks,” he said. “There is always space at the table for people who are doing the right things for the right reasons.”
Mike Taigman, MA, who has served as the Agenda’s facilitator throughout its entire drafting process, was clear about the scope of the work involved in creating this document.
“We had the task to try to inspire all of EMS to think into the future,” he said.
During the forum, Taigman moderated a panel of the Agenda’s “Technical Experts,” comprised of specifically chosen specialists who participated in not only regional town-hall style meetings around the country, but also in other meetings to draft the final document.
One of the Agenda’s main thrusts is a commitment to a “people-centered” vision of EMS. The draft defines “people-centered” as including ”…processes, protocols, technology, policies and practices designed to provide the best possible outcome for individuals and communities—every day and during major disasters.” Many of the Technical Experts who spoke during the forum focused on this theme.
Andy Gienapp, MS, NRP, of the Wyoming Office of EMS, acknowledged the trials that face the industry in its move to an improved future: “Doing things that are truly people-centered will take hard work and create bruised egos. But that’s our challenge. Stop doing things because they are convenient.”
The EMS Agenda 2050 project was a two-year effort, the direct result of a recommendation by the National EMS Advisory Council to revisit and revise the original 1996 EMS Agenda for the Future. With the support of several other federal agencies, NHTSA partnered with Redhorse Corporation and the RedFlash Group to manage the initiative. The final EMS Agenda 2050 document is expected to be published soon.
But the publication of the EMS Agenda 2050 document is just the beginning, not the end of the process. In her closing comments to the audience, Marianne Gausche-Hill, MD, medical director for Los Angeles County EMS in California, implored all members of the EMS industry to play a role in breaking down the silos in healthcare and strive to improve the system.
“The Agenda 2050 document provides a framework for change,” said Gausche-Hill. “When you leave this meeting, you can immediately start to create a people-centered vision for EMS. Establish a just culture for your workforce, address disparities in healthcare, create novel EMS education: the future begins now.”
For more information on the EMS Agenda 2050, see below:
Recorded webcast of the National Implementation Forum
EMS Agenda 2050 is supported by the:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of EMS
EMS for Children Program at the Health Resources and Services Administration
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Homeland Security Office of Health Affairs
The EMS Agenda 2050 project is managed by the Redhorse Corporation, with support from the RedFlash Group, through a contract with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.