Monday, June 4, 2007

More on politics and EMS

Sleeping on yesterday's post (Senator Allard's press release) brought me to a bigger picture thought this morning: Why does something as important as EMS have near zip (nada, nothing) in the political power and support category?

There are many answers to this, some which are not our fault and some which are clearly our fault.

In the first (and easiest category) we are relatively new compared to the fire service, nursing, medicine, and the cops. As such it would logically take time to become rooted in the power (and money) structure of politics.

In the second, and more difficult, category we don't advocate for ourselves, we have 50 islands rather than a unified front, have many delivery models with different needs/interests, don't value education as much as we should and don't have anyone speaking for us politically--at least efficiently.

The National Association of EMTs has a legislative agenda which includes information for anyone from a leader to an individual on how to have a voice which is nicely done--but it isn't enough.

NAEMT has begun to lobby more aggressively in recent years. A good start. But to become a contender we need more muscle. If a senator wants to be re-elected they would like endorsements from the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). The nursing associations (e.g. ENA) and physician's groups on the health care side of things (e.g. ACEP) have a strong voice. If one of these groups endorses a candidate it has meaning. People seek out these endorsements. We don't have that in EMS.

We also have the "who is better in providing EMS" argument which splits us down the middle. The NAEMT posted a position paper about this. It is written in that politically-correct-I-hope-people-get-the-meaning-of-this-
but-we-can't-say-it-and-offend-anyone language inherent in position papers.

The meaning: Get along. Be professional. Be smart. People won't take us seriously until we do.

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