General Preparedness

EMS and the emergency care system needs to have a seat at the planning table

As I reviewed the proposed membership of the Task Force, I have noted the glaring absence of representation from the emergency medical services (EMS) community and emergency physicians. EMS providers and emergency physicians are the members of the emergency care system who will play key primary roles in a disaster response, regardless of its etiology. Although I commend the inclusion of firefighters, the specific designation of a position on the Task Force for EMS and emergency physicians will embrace the sectors of the emergency care system, i.e. private EMS agencies, rural EMS, and specialized care EMS organizations (hazardous materials, air and ground mobile intensive care units, dive and water rescue, tactical EMS), that play an invaluable role in a broad spectrum of disaster and emergency incidents. The EMS system, along with the emergency physicians, play a primary role during disasters in the provision of patient care, education of the general public in prevention, preparedness, and mitigation measures, and the appropriate management and allocation of scarce resources.

There is no substitute for the education of the general public in the initiation of basic preparedness measures and the importance of the awareness, identification, and reporting of potential threats. However, there will be significant gaps in the crafting of a disaster response and emergency guidance policy without dedicated and specific representation from our EMS providers and emergency physicians, the critical components of the emergency care system who are fully operational and prepared 24-7-365.

Best regards,

Dr. Carol Cunningham

State Medical Director, Ohio Department of Public Safety, Division of EMS

EMS Medical Director, Lake Health


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Similar Ideas [ 1 ]


  1. Comment
    Sandra Martin

    I think that the same comment could be made for public health as almost every large scale event has a public health component. EMS, hospitals and public health should be partners with public safety in all emergency planning.

  2. Comment
    Don Rice

    Dr. Cunningham is correct.

    There is often a disconnect between Emergency Management / Preparedness and the EMS community and the physicians that provide oversight.

    If plans, strategies, and resources are to be allocated for such events, it is not only prudent but critical that those with doctoral level training in medicine be involved to provide adequate input to assist this process.

    Don Rice, M.D., FAAFP

    EMS Physician Medical Director, State of Nebraska

  3. Comment
    Patricia J Dukes

    Aloha, Dr. Cunningham! I'm Patty Dukes, Chief of Honolulu EMS and a member of the Task Force. Indeed there is an EMS presence in the group, in the form of a 3rd service EMS and a fire-based EMS agency. Both the Chief and I made certain all were aware of the vital role of EMS in all incidents. I wanted you to know! Mahalo for listening.

    Patricia J. Dukes, AS, MICT

    Chief of Honolulu EMS