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.
Dr. Carol Cunningham
State Medical Director, Ohio Department of Public Safety, Division of EMS
EMS Medical Director, Lake Health