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Why It Would Be Beneficial to Consolidate EMS Agencies

By Allison G. S. Knox
Edge Contributor

Condensing emergency medical services (EMS) agencies under one federal agency would help to alleviate many of the different staffing and infrastructure issues that EMS agencies have nationwide. Emergency medical treatment needs to be more consistent through all 50 states, and a reorganization would create the consistency in treatment that communities have needed for decades.

EMS Agencies in Rural Communities Often Struggle to Provide Pre-Hospital Healthcare

Currently, the availability of emergency medical treatment varies depending upon one’s community. Quick access to healthcare is different from one community to another, and some rural communities are unable to provide quality healthcare to all residents due to budget, staffing, and equipment shortages.

Pre-hospital services, such as the medical treatment provided by ambulance crews, are not always available in all 50 states. As a result, local residents may receive inadequate medical care or have no access to medical care at all.

In the event of a large-scale disaster, a community’s ability to provide pre-hospital treatment is even more important due to a large number of victims. As a result, it’s imperative for lawmakers to make sure that all communities have the budget to ensure access to quality pre-hospital healthcare.

The 2018 SIREN Act has tried to close some of the budget gaps for rural communities by offering grants for recruitment, retention and equipment for these communities. But this legislation is only a small fix for a massive problem.

Related link: Improving Emergency Medical Services in Rural Communities

Unifying EMS Agencies Under One Federal Agency Could Resolve Some Issues

EMS professionals have argued for a while now that EMS agencies should be united from the federal level down to all local agencies. EMS experts have also said for decades that the industry is plagued with numerous issues, making it difficult for EMS agencies to grow and prosper. If EMS agencies were united under one federal agency, then there is a chance that many of these issues would no longer be problems due to federal mandates that shift policies from the federal level down to local governments.

Certainly, the alignment of all EMS agencies under one umbrella would be an asset for EMS agencies nationwide. However, restructuring EMS agencies throughout the U.S. might prove difficult, given how many EMS agencies have developed over time. But a restructuring would give many EMS agencies the credence and credibility that they need to resolve their internal issues.

if there was a federal mandate aligning all EMS agencies, communities could be required to close the healthcare treatment gaps might exist during a major disaster. But in the end, closing important gaps in medical treatment would benefit communities and save lives.

Related link: EMS Agencies: Creating Government Accountability and Trust

Allison G.S. Knox

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at the University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison works as an Intermittent Emergency Management Specialist in the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response. She also serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences, chair of Pi Gamma Mu’s Leadership Development Program and Assistant Editor for the International Journal of Paramedicine. 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 five master’s degrees.

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