AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

Improving Emergency Medical Services in Rural Communities

By Allison G. S. Knox
Edge Contributor

Recently, there have been a lot of important discussions about rural communities and their lack of emergency medical services (EMS). For instance, The New York Times and NBC News have highlighted serious EMS issues in rural communities over the last few years.

To alleviate the EMS problem in these rural communities, Congress recently passed the Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) Act. This legislation provides grant funding to rural EMS agencies, helping them to obtain equipment and to recruit and retain personnel.  

The SIREN Act has a small fund, but it is certainly helping rural communities throughout the country. This legislation is an important step for those communities, but there are ongoing problems that still exist, such as providing the necessary training.  

Without trained ambulance crews, for instance, people will not have prehospital care during medical and trauma emergencies. Some victims may die if they cannot reach medical facilities quickly enough. But we can prevent some fatalities by having an appropriate number of ambulances available with trained personnel at any given time.

Related link: Tornadoes and Their Ripple Effect on Local Economies

First Responders Writing After-Action Reports in Rural Communities Should Consider EMS Availability

While disasters cannot be entirely prevented, the loss of life and property can be minimized or avoided. The ability for a community to respond appropriately to a major disaster such as the Mayfield, Kentucky, tornado can be a game-changer. 

First responders working on after-action reports should consider the availability of EMS resources during disasters. Understanding EMS resources prior to a disaster will help to provide the framework for improving EMS management in rural communities.

Related link: Why We Need More Training to Handle Mass Casualty Incidents

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 multiple graduate degrees.

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