By Allison G. S. Knox, M.A., B.A., EMT-B, Faculty at American Military University
Throughout the United States, many individuals receive first aid training so they know how to handle very basic emergencies. It is beneficial, for example, that the average person understands how to effectively manage significant bleeding from an injury or provide assistance during cardiac arrest. Ultimately, very basic first aid skills can save lives and allow an individual to render care while waiting for trained medical personnel to arrive.
First aid classes are extremely beneficial for training the public about emergency care. In addition to such training, it is also important for first aid and CPR instructors to take the opportunity to explain the overall structure of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the emergency system as a whole to these students.
EMS is, unfortunately, a widely misunderstood system. Many ambulance companies and jurisdictions have numerous issues with individuals calling 9-1-1 for non-emergent calls. This happens on a regular basis because most individuals in local towns and cities do not have a strong grasp of the specifics of EMS. First aid courses are a great time for instructors to highlight the overall hierarchical structure of EMS and explain how protocols affect EMS in various jurisdictions.
The cliché “knowledge is power” is essential to EMS. If we can spark the interest of individuals taking first aid courses by explaining just what goes into an EMS system, we may have found a niche into the public relations of EMS as a whole. If people understood more about how the system worked, they may be more willing to advocate and support EMS when their local government system requests additional funding in the budget.
If an emphasis is placed on explaining EMS to first aid students, it may help increase the fundamental understanding of emergency services by the public, which could make the difference in policy development for EMS throughout the United States.
About the Author: Allison G. S. Knox is both a political scientist and emergency medical technician. She is on the faculty at the American Military University and American Public University. She holds three Master of Arts degrees in International Politics, Emergency Management and History, an undergraduate degree in Political Science and is working on her doctorate at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, (Virginia Tech). Ms. Knox is the Faculty Adviser and Chapter Sponsor of the West Virginia Iota Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and the Governor of West Virginia for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society at the national level. She advocates annually for issues affecting Emergency Medical Services on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Her research interests are in federalism, pluralism, emergency management and emergency medical services policy. You can reach her directly at: Allison_G.S._Knox@hotmail.com.
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