Contemplating life.

Emergency Siblings

Paramedic services should take a look at their emergency service siblings.

For example our older brother, the police. We do not see them sit at their police station until a crime happens – they actively patrol their area, their presence deterring crime and assuring citizens, their interactions with the public via stalls, info days, brochures and exhibitions informing the population on the prevention of crime.

Whereas we sit and wait for emergencies to happen. Isn’t it time that Paramedic Services integrate themselves in to the health system tightly, and evolve from passive response to (pro)active engagement within the community?


This is happening in the US, and it’s spreading like wildfire (couldn’t resist the pun :-). Mostly with rural communities you’ll see “Community Paramedics” or “Advanced Practice Paramedics (APP)”, but a few big cities (Fort Worth, Texas comes to mind) have been adopting it to help stave off the burden placed on them by system abusers and the truly dependent who just have to call 911 a few times per month.

I think we are growing further away from the Department of Transportation that sponsored us nationally when we gained official notoriety, and are now mostly split between public safety and public health (DHS/FEMA is being asked to get us away from the USDOT, and place us under the same oversight that fire and justice share).

You mention that law enforcement is patrolling, but consider also that the fire service has about put themselves out of business with its prevention programs (sprinklers, fire safety, smoke alarms, public education campaigns, etc.). EMS is getting there too now, with car seats, stroke and heart attack awareness, AED’s, et. al., and I think soon, we’ll see APP’s (not standard-level Paramedics) becoming mid-level practitioners, on par with PA’s and Nurse Practitioners, but doing home visits.

flobach says:

Hey UWM,
Good point made with the fire brigade – I knew they are more proactive than we are, just failed to mention it (plus I don’t know as much about them). They do (generally) have much more down time than us – thanks to their hard work over the years putting themselves out of work as you mentioned. That should mean a) they are doing something right, and should continue, b) they can come and help us with our load (many fire services already are) and c) we should adopt a similar system. How much better would our world be if instead of being flat out responding to calls, our schedules would be flat out *preventing* calls?
Thanks for the comment πŸ™‚

JB says:

What practical things would you do as a paramedic to prevent calls?

Workplace safety inspections?
Driver safety campaigns?
Running public exercise fitness classes?
Picketing the local maccas?

I like the concept, I’m just not sure how (other than PR visits and public education where possible) it plays out without stepping on preventative programs that already exist.

Joel says:

Don’t recreate the wheel. Form a partnership with public health department and work with them on programs that already exist. Create new programs together. EMS is a component of public health, we only have to show the directors how we can fit in to their system.

flobach says:

It will come, i am sure of that.

Now it depends on us how quick we can make it happen.

Student Parmed says:

Sounds great on paper, how would that play out in the “real world”? There has been a few papers published in regard to the paramedic’s role in a small rural community (the paramedics were involved in community education programs and provided additional support at hospitals), but I doubt a similar model would “work” in larger communities.
I suppose the Ambulance service could invest in preventing time-wasting calls (“my cat scratch my finger and I don’t have a band-aid”) but I struggle to think of any strategies that would get management’s tick of approval πŸ˜‰

Joel says:

I agree with Unwired Medic, the fire service have ingrained themselves in the community with prevention activities. EMS needs to be a part of the public health system AND part of the public safety system. We exist in both realities, and can serve the public as agents of both.

Child safety seat checks, vaccinations, welfare checks, and CPR classes for the community are just a few of the things any EMS agency can do tomorrow. All they need is a director with a vision.

Partner with you department of health, set up a table at a community health fair. You can offer blood pressure checks, education on chronic diseases (Diabetes, HTN, COPD). The only limit is your imagination.

The next step is expanding the role of EMS, just like community paramedics, but that’s a topic for a different blog post.

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