Much has been said about the state of EMS today. No one will argue that there isn’t improvement to be made. But how does improvement happen? We have two straightforward, actionable suggestions.
The first is for EMS practitioners, friends, family, fans, patients and community members everywhere. It is very simple. The second is for anyone in any position of authority within the EMS space. It will take a little more thought and energy, but is essential to the future of EMS.
1. Take the Time to Advocate for Our Profession
Change doesn’t happen unless we advocate for it, and complaining on social media is not advocacy.
When we interviewed paramedic and attorney Wes Ogilvie for the 7 Things EMS podcast, he said this: “You need to go to the state legislature and lobby for EMS to have the laws it needs at your state level. And you need to lobby your county or your city… to adequately fund EMS.”
The NAEMT not only advocates on behalf of the profession, they make it really easy for every one of us to get in touch with our local representatives and ask for their support on legislation that will benefit us. All you have to do is go to the NAEMT website to submit pre-written emails to your local representatives.
- In the Advocacy dropdown of the NAEMT website, go to Online Legislative Service to see current legislative issues affecting EMS.
- Enter your street and zip code, and you’ll get an email template addressed to your local representatives.
- Fill out your name and address, and click the “Send” button.
- Encourage your friends, family and coworkers to send emails too!
Boom. That’s it. Easy, but important. Remember to check back from time to time to see what new legislative items have been introduced.
2. If You’re in a Leadership Position, Use Your Authority to Take Care of the People Around You
Leaders in EMS have the responsibility to use their authority for the good of their people. This applies to everyone from team leads to medical directors to municipality managers.
Below are a few practical ways to demonstrate good leadership and support your team. Plus, this helps with employee retention–often more challenging than recruitment.
- Encourage them. It’s easy for leaders to focus on workplace pressures like budget constraints, demanding schedules, unruly patients and bureaucratic checklists. But your people are your most important asset. Make it a point to be kind and complimentary. Your attitude directly affects their work day.
- Recognize their dedication, accomplishments and improvements – and do it often. EMS Week and Employee of the Year are great, but make sure the whole team is being seen and recognized throughout the year.
- Stop and listen to your people. And not just when it’s time for an annual review. Spend time getting to know your people during staff meetings, trainings, meals, etc. Find out how they feel about the company culture, what they need to perform better, what motivates them and what makes them feel discouraged.
- Honor their needs. This is the second part of listening to them. Make sure they get the rest and recognition they need when they do have to put in long hours, allow raises where possible and appropriate, provide opportunities for continued education and advancement, etc. Show them that they matter.
For a deeper look into how to be a good leader, check out our recent 7 Things EMS podcast episode with EMS leadership expert Jon Politis. He offers 7 practical and meaningful tips for transitioning into the kind of leader that EMS needs. Listen to the episode wherever you get your podcasts.
A Better EMS
This list could easily be 15 items long. But we think these two things could have the biggest impact. What do you think? Tell us in the comments.