posted January 21, 2020
As we move into a new decade, many aspects of EMS administration will remain the same. Providers are still going to be on the front lines during emergencies and charged with providing high-quality care in increasingly complex situations. The role of EMS will continue to evolve as more communities implement programs in which EMS professionals are called upon to provide non-emergency, primary care services. Budgeting and staffing will always be concerns as well.
As 2020 begins, EMS administrators are turning their attention to several key priorities that will continue to shape the industry in the years to come. < Click to Tweet
Some of these trends are a continuation of the overall changes in the field over the last decade, while others represent a shift away from “business as usual” and toward a new way of providing emergency services.
As you consider your career in EMS, and your goals as an EMS administrator, understanding these three trends will be vital to your decision-making and development as a leader in the year to come.
Trend No. 1: Education and Certification Continues to Be a Priority for EMS Providers
In 2009, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration published the initial version of the National EMS Education Standards. The standards were based on a vision of consistent and standardized education for EMS providers. This first draft included five components, including a National EMS Scope of Practice Model, that defined the minimum entry-level standards for EMS providers in all positions.
In 2020, those standards will be revised and updated for the first time since 2009. Not only will they be better aligned with the National EMS Scope of Practice Model, they will also be revised to better reflect current best practices and evidence-based research. These revisions mark a much-needed update to the standards, and EMS administrators will be called upon to comment on the updated guidelines and contribute ideas and feedback based on their own experiences in the field to better reflect the current realities and expectations of emergency services.
The updated standards likely won’t appear until 2021, but they will serve to guide the education, training and development of EMS providers for the next decade and beyond.
Trend No. 2: Continued Focus on the Health and Well-Being of EMS Providers
In the 2019 EMS Trend Report produced by EMS1, Fitch & Associates and the National EMS Management Association, recruitment and retention remained a top priority for EMS administrators. Concerns about pay have been a common reason why EMS providers leave their jobs, but burnout is also becoming a big factor. In fact, 62% of the respondents noted that provider mental health is having a significant effect on the profession as a whole.
Moving forward into 2020 and beyond, EMS administrators will be expected to do more in terms of supporting the mental health and well-being of those working in the field, especially since surveys indicate that most EMS professionals don’t think that their organizations are doing enough currently. Because of the mental stress inherent in the job, though, it’s important that administrators advocate for programs and services that can help EMS providers manage the stress, pain and trauma that comes from working in the field. It will also be important to work toward changing the pervasive mindset that only a “certain kind” of person can handle the work of EMS.
By recognizing and acknowledging the realities of working in EMS, administrators and their organizations can develop stronger, more capable teams while reducing the likelihood of burnout and, ultimately, turnover.
Trend No. 3: A Shift Toward More “High Touch” Emergency Services
There’s no doubt that we’ve seen a major expansion in technology over the last decade, and the advances only continue. Within the realm of EMS, some are predicting the adoption of technology slowing down. Some are advocating for a move back toward more high-touch, communication-based services.
Technology needs to fit within the typical workflow of the EMS provider to be effective and make it easier for them to communicate with each other, their patients, and other services. Data collection is important, and implementing new tools and methods like social media and telemedicine can add value, but the use of technology shouldn’t get in the way of actual care.
Therefore, EMS administrators will be called upon to make decisions regarding technology and how to balance the latest innovations with the primary purpose of EMS: to take care of people. Methods shouldn’t only be based on how technologically advanced they are, or how much data they can capture, but rather the value they bring to providers and customers.
Meeting the challenges of EMS administration in the coming decade requires a thorough understanding of all the issues, trends and challenges the industry is facing today, as well as how they will impact the future of emergency services.
At Columbia Southern University, we offer the comprehensive education and insights required to be an effective leader in many different careers in safety and emergency services. For more information about CSU’s online degree programs in EMS administration, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu/EMS.
Related: EMT Stories: Ready Responders On or Off the Clock