The Importance of EMT Training
by Bruce Evans, Fire Chief
The complexity and rate of change in the health care system has never been greater than it is right now. Mobile integrated health care or community paramedicine, value-based purchasing, quality metrics, and the need for advanced management and leadership techniques to motivate and innovate require something more than seniority or on the job EMT training to meet the challenges of today. The rate of change in emergency medical services should be matched with equivalent education to be competitive. This can be achieved by attaining an Emergency Medical Services Degree. Lifelong learning is now a necessity and for an organization to move forward its members must continuously pursue new ideas and strategies.
Global competition has for years displayed the weaknesses in our workforce. Historically, EMS managers were advanced based on tenure alone and were not equipped with the tools gained from an EMS Management degree. There are significant challenges emerging that will require the knowledge and innovation acquired through education. Some of the hurdles EMS faces include: a shortage of paramedics and other health care providers; stagnant debate on ambulance design and safety that lags behind the Europeans and Australians; and quality and performance metrics for EMS that have yet to be defined, but that will soon be demanded by private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. All require a solid foundation in EMS and the health care system provided by formal education.
The basic purpose of an Emergency Medical Services Degree is to convey knowledge about facts, concepts, events and principles. This is necessary to innovate and solve problems. EMS training on the other hand is focused upon gaining particular skills. Training is taken to master a particular task or job to become proficient in a particular skill.
With all of the competition for agency or personnel budgets it is easy to move support for a degree down on the priority list among limited funds. The rate of change and daily demands also make it almost impossible to allocate resources to study and pursue post-secondary education. Often education and training are the first to go when finances are tight. Training staff and support to the EMT training division is often rationed. Frequently those in the training role are not educators, making it difficult for them to know how to generate innovative ideas. This makes going to training or getting an education rough at best and intolerable at worst. There is truly value in a good Emergency Medical Services degree.
Lifelong learning is now a necessity and for an organization to move forward its members must continuously pursue new ideas and strategies.
Technology has been revolutionizing the world of education. While delivering education online is occasionally limited by bandwidth, education that is entirely available on demand, at a place and time of the individual’s choosing, on a variety of devices now eliminates previous barriers. Access to affordable, advanced EMS education does not require a trip to the training center or crossing town to a campus.
Finally, if there is one other reason to finish an Emergency Medical Services Degree program it is to set an example for your children. Kids will look to their parents when planning their future. If they see that their parents placed value in education by completing a degree they will seek to emulate their parents’ achievements. Without a bachelor’s degree future generations will be looking at low paying retail jobs, temporary employment or be seen as a lesser value in the employment market. Engage education if not for yourself, then for future generations.
Bruce Evans is the Fire Chief of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District in Bayfield, CO. Chief Evans is a board member with the National Association of EMTs and completed his Master's Degree in Public Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Evans has taught fire and EMS topics over 25 years at the National Fire Academy, College of Southern Nevada and Pueblo Community College in Durango, CO.