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Our Predictions for the New Year 2022

Now is the time we reflect on the past and glance optimistically into the New Year. What will 2022 bring? How will we deal with the continued pandemic? What big issues will EMS face?

These predictions are a bit darker than usual—but these are trying times. Here goes for 2022:

  1. The pandemic – as the nation moves into the third year of COVID, EMS is tired. Heading into 2022, the omicron variant has stressed every industry from hospitality to airlines. This will get worse before it gets better, and EMS is squarely in the middle of the crisis. From hospital wall time to mandatory holdovers because of callouts, we risk the fabric of what holds a system together: people. While we believe EMS has a history of resiliency and dedication, we need a better strategy for the long haul. Also of concern in our country is the division we face. Many in our society distrust science and medicine—a traditional bedrock of guidance. Misinformation abounds. Regardless of how you feel about vaccinations, conspiracies, and the government, please don’t forget about respect and the well-being of your friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
  2. Advanced practices advances – just so we are not total downers, COVID will provide opportunities. Opportunities for greater pay, additional skills, and more autonomy. Now is the time to rise to these opportunities and show what we providers can do. Then, when and if there is an end to the pandemic, EMS will be looked upon with the faith and trust we deserve.
  3. NREMT tests testing – The good news is that the NREMT remains more open and forward-facing than ever. The other news (not necessarily bad) is that we believe the test will become more challenging—in a different way. The NREMT used to use a “best answer” format to determine entry-level competency. People often felt that was trickery. The new methods, beginning with multiple response items, will make the exam more challenging in a less voodoo, more demanding way. Perhaps you should be careful what you wish for.
  4. Pay versus morale – We’ve seen a lot about this on social media. Some say low pay is why EMS can’t keep people in our ranks. Others point to low morale. This is like asking whether you want the Titanic to hit an iceberg or to get hit by torpedoes. Our answer: the resolution to this begins with us. Treat each other better. Treat each patient like they are the reason you are there. Be the employee that an employer would want. Sorry if this is idealistic, but it is better than waiting for the “Pay and Professionalism Fairy” to wave a magic wand.
  5. To degree or not to degree – We are pro degree. We don’t predict any sudden change in the industry that will move us toward degrees this year. This is more of an evolutionary process. We will focus more on COVID than the future in 2022—and that is ok—for now.
  6. More on education – We predict that the needs of employers, the needs of colleges/training centers, and the needs of prospective students will be increasingly at odds. Significant odds. Some areas and institutions will be unable to meet rising employer demands, while others will face a surprising lack of students and risk closure. Typical patterns of increased enrollment during crisis and unemployment will be skewed in 2022. Referring back to prediction #3, EMS education programs will still struggle with preparing students for the NREMT exam, especially in the areas of content depth and critical thinking.
  7. The big test for EMS – Will EMS see “the big one” this year? It is possible. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a 9/11 style attack. While we argue about vaccines and politics, our divided and COVID-addled country is vulnerable to infrastructure attacks. Our financial institutions, communication networks, power grids, and transportation systems have already been tested—and sometimes crashed. How can we talk about resiliency and preparation when we believe that social media apps going down is a hardship?

If you want to call them that, EMS has two good things coming from this. The first is that it gives us time to shine. The second is that a common enemy brings us together.

We really need to be more together in 2022.

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