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By Dan Limmer

Each January, I write out my predictions of things to come in EMS education. Some have been easy, others difficult. Some right, some wrong. This year I am switching to a decade-long prediction for EMS as a whole. Where will we find EMS in 2030?

I admit to being generally positive and excited about EMS after all these many years. I know that not everyone shares that view. It isn’t always easy in the day to day grind. It is difficult to see things we value as evolutionary when deep in our hearts we want to be part of the revolution—especially for the short attention span crowd, of which I am a member.

Let’s take a look at both the positive and negative predictions for this new decade.

Positive Predictions for EMS in the 2020s

  1. I believe EMS will be more mature at the end of this decade. Face it, we are still somewhat new compared to other health professions. We will embrace research more, play less of a defensive game on bigger issues, and gain respect in the healthcare system.
  2. Part of the maturation will be EMS finding its voice. I’m not saying that there will be one organization that rises to the top as the EMS voice. It may happen. I’m talking about EMS leading from within, both administratively and clinically. I look at organizations like FlightbridgeED and individuals like Ginger Locke, Bill Young, and Tyler Christifulli and feel the voices of quality, passion, strength and substance that move us forward.
  3. And speaking of voices, I believe #FOAMed is in its infancy and will evolve to something larger than the sum of its parts in this decade. It is awesome now. We’ve seen the strength of individual voices on a profession. This is just the beginning.
  4. I see technology moving us forward. There may be stumbles and problems, but it will move us forward. I see this in both education and practice. It is difficult to predict technology because it happens so fast and unpredictably. I believe the new generation of end-users of educational material will demand more of publishers. If publishers don’t innovate to meet these needs, individuals can and will.
  5. Like medicine, many of our decisions will be computer and/or AI-based. Medical practice is now guided by computers. While the differential diagnostic capabilities of a physician are vital, more and more computers help guide clinical decision making. We should expect computers to direct more of the clinical and operational parts of EMS.
  6. I am happier when I see technology that isn’t adopted than when it is adopted. It isn’t that I am against technology. I love it and recognize it as our future. I see inexpensive ultrasound devices available but not on ambulances and I feel like we are actually thinking about how to implement technology based on science and outcomes rather than glitz and glamour. We are better consumers. POCUS and other technologies will find their place when the time is right.

Negative Predictions for EMS in the 2020s

  1. EMS will continue to struggle to find its place between public safety and healthcare systems. We will be closer to resolution on the degree vs certificate issue for paramedics, but it won’t be resolved. Sadly, I also believe the division between the fire service and EMS will worsen before it gets better.
  2. While we will find a stronger voice within, we will still struggle both inside and outside EMS. Unity will be slow and arduous. Social media will continue to be the battleground we use to attack each other and degrade our profession.

So that’s it. My big picture predictions for EMS in the roaring ‘20s. The 2020s, that is. I’d love to hear what you think of these predictions and hear some of your own.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Steve Smith says:

    Excellent. I think you’re on the right track with these predictions. I can’t wait to see what happens and be a part of it!

  • Theresa Kuehne says:

    Hoping that soon we will all be recognized for the work we do, not in newspapers and such, but financially. I think most of your predictions are spot on. If something doesn’t happen soon the attraction of young people to fill the shoes won’t be there. Someone needs to step up and push for us soon

  • Keith Monosky says:

    Dan – as you well know: my life’s mission was to advance the EMS profession into the realm of healthcare provider and away from the public safety corridor. Your prediction for (negative) #1 is spot on. I have eventually (after 40+ years of advocacy) resolved myself to accept the eventuality that EMS will not rise to achieve parity with other healthcare professions anytime soon. The widespread resistance toward progress for a more formalized education and degree attainment specific to EMS professions remains unresolved. I hope you’re correct that it will happen eventually, along with an important distinction between fire service and EMS, but I doubt it will be anytime soon.

    I have invested a life-time of professional commitment to advance that agenda and, despite moments of pride and hope, have surrendered that battle to more stalwart and ambitious crusaders. I look forward to the day that EMS has a seat at the table of healthcare – not because its the right thing to do, but because it was earned.

    Nice job on the predictions, my friend. Any recommendations for lottery numbers?

  • Dan Limmer says:

    Keith–thanks for taking the time to comment. You have indeed moved the profession forward and I am happy to have worked with you over the years. While none of us can go on forever in our quests, know you did good things and earned respect among your colleagues. And just maybe there will be another act in the play for you to continue a bit more.

    As for the lottery numbers: 2,37, 45… 🙂

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