The flaws in the current emergency medical system design are coming to light in the wake of COVID-19. The EMS system in the U.S. has fallen behind other countries on many quality indicators. Paramedicine clinicians remain very poorly paid, and the U.S. paramedicine system remains isolated and underfunded.
Operating with insufficient funding means agencies cannot afford to pay a professional wage. The median pay for EMTs and paramedics is $34,320. The median U.S. salary is $48,672. The low pay contributes to high personnel turnover.
There is no single U.S. federal agency solely charged with supporting paramedicine operations. No legislative mandate exists to engage in paramedicine operational research. There is no paramedicine-specific financial support to advance core initiatives at the federal level. This is in stark contrast to those programs legislated to support law enforcement, firefighting and public health. EMS also needs support at the state and local levels.
Dr. Maguire, and others, are proposing a new paramedicine system in the U.S., and urges all EMS professionals to call on federal, state and local representatives to immediately invest in the EMS system in order to care for current COVID-19 victims, to prepare for the next wave of this pandemic and to create the 21st century paramedicine system in the U.S.