AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

Are 911 Services a Social Equity Problem?

By Allison G. S. Knox
Edge Contributor

Academic literature illustrates numerous problems in society and highlights problems with social equity. Social equity is an important sociological concept involving treating people equally and with fairness.

As a part of social equity, governments are obliged to provide useful resources to the public to ensure equality, based on people’s needs. For instance, a government building must provide easily accessible wheelchair ramps so that anyone utilizing a wheelchair can access that building.

Social equity is intertwined with different policies, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is also a vital part of improving healthcare disparities and many other situations where individuals need government assistance. Children, for example, must be provided with educational resources by their respective school districts so they have the same access to education as everyone else.

Many Communities Are Struggling to Provide 911 Services

Emergency medicine and 911 services are tied to local governments. But despite the need for 911 services, many rural communities across the country struggle to provide appropriate emergency services.

Many communities, for example, cannot afford emergency medical services. In addition, some first responder agencies are unable to recruit volunteers to provide such services to their citizens.

As a result, there are significant healthcare disparities in communities around the U.S. For instance, one community may be able to provide quality medical care to its citizens, while another can’t.  But if communities aren’t providing the same or equal 911 services to their citizens, isn’t this a social equity issue?

Local Governments Need to Provide Funding for Equal Prehospital Care

911 services are often offered to the public by the local government. To ensure that all residents of a community get the same level of care, local governments should provide funding to ensure equal access to prehospital care to its citizens.

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at American Military University and American Public University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and as Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. She is also chair of Pi Gamma Mu’s Leadership Development Program. Prior to teaching, Allison worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. She is an emergency medical technician and holds four master’s degrees.

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