EMS Narratives | Friday Night [Under The] Lights

EMS Narratives Columns

Below is the first in a series of monthly personal narratives from EMS leaders. If you would like to submit a column for consideration, please email hello@ambulance.org.

Written Friday, November 25, 2022 | By Ed Racht, MD

Happy Friday, and happy Thanksgiving weekend. I hope by now your blood sugar is slowly but surely heading back to baseline despite all the leftovers calling you from the fridge. Worth it though, right? My dad taught me long ago, “everything in moderation—even moderation.”

So, I want to tell you something tonight, especially because it is the Thanksgiving season. I’ve been thinking for a while about how to say this without sounding cliché, routine, robotic, or insincere. And then—as so often happens in life—I got a little help from a very unlikely encounter.

This past Saturday, my bestie, Heather, and I went to try a local diner for breakfast. This place has been around since air was invented. Cash only. Same tables and seats since the day they opened. Part Formica, part particle board countertops. None of the coffee cups match. Open only until 2:00PM and always closed on Sundays. The ham & cheese omelet is $7.99. Biscuits, bread, or hashbrowns only. Everyone that comes in knows everyone else. And it is packed all the time.

We chose a booth in the corner by the window because our server told us that was the warmest table she had available. She was right.

As we sat drinking our coffee in mismatched mugs, we both noticed an elderly man sitting by himself at the end of the counter. He had placed his walker against the ATM along the wall (cash only, remember?).

Then he slowly got up from his stool, grabbed that walker, and carefully wobbled his way to the restroom. It was one of those moments where we both watched and quietly prepared to jump up to help prevent what seemed like an inevitable fall. We didn’t want to offend him with an offer to help but didn’t want him taking a trip to ground either.

We looked across the table at each other and did that mutual raised eyebrow thingy. Ugh. “Warmest booth we have,” she said. Great.

A few minutes later, he slowly made his way back to his spot. But he went a few feet too far this time with the walker, making a beeline directly toward the warmest booth in the diner. He stopped for a minute (what the heck?) grabbed the handwritten check off our table and turned around, without saying a word, and made his way back to his seat. His walker made those sequential two inch turns.

Great. How do you tell an older man he has OUR check (and why did we come here again)?

“Excuse me?” We both said, eyebrows up again.

He turned to us and said, “I’ve got it.”

Wait. What?

He said, “I come up here every day for breakfast when they’re open. Twice a month, I like to buy somebody else’s breakfast. I’ve got it.”

Wow. We sat in stunned silence as this gentleman made his way back to the counter and sat down on his stool.

To make a long story short, we thanked him and struck up a small conversation with him. A few minutes in, he asked, “can I get closer?”

Of course.

So once again we went through the diner-walker challenge and he made his way over to the warmest booth in the restaurant and sat with us for the next hour. We talked about all sorts of things. His wife had been a nurse (mental health was her specialty). He told us about where they had lived and their adventures. He talked a little about his opinions of healthcare today (you can fill in those blanks).

At one point, he told me he lived in Texas and he’d always travel into Mexico to get his medications because they were so much cheaper than in the US. I asked him if he was nervous about going.

He laughed, and said, “I always went in the morning. Bad guys don’t get up early.”

Now, I’ve been in EMS for a few years and you know what? He’s right. Holy crud. Funny and spot-on relevant.

So, why am I telling you about Gary (his real name, by the way)? First, I need to cover a few more things to pull the meaning of this story together. Bear with me.

Fair warning. This next part doesn’t feel Thanksgivingy, but I’m going to argue that it’s at the very heart of a meaningful “thanks.”

Take a look at some of the toughest parts of our world right now:

  • How can we ever understand recent senseless acts of violence—and how will we ever comfort our own who responded?
  • What do we do about the fact that a recent survey shows that nine in 10 nurses believe the quality of patient care often suffers due to nursing shortages?
  • And, by the way, the majority added that they feel guilty about taking a break because they think they must always be on call (55%).
  • … resulting in half of the nurses polled admitting they have considered leaving the nursing profession altogether (50%).
  • And how about this one? According to a AAA survey of 258 EMS organizations across the country, nearly a third of the workforce left their ambulance company after less than a year. Eleven percent left within the first three months!
  • Did you know that the number of serious patient safety incidents reported to The Joint Commission jumped in 2021, reaching the highest annual level seen since the accrediting body started tracking them in 2005?
  • And … In Minnesota, nearly 60% of the state’s EMTs and about 15% of Paramedics did not provide patient care in 2021. This suggests that they left the EMS workforce altogether.

I’ll stop there, because I think you get the gist. How (and why) do I go from a Gary story to this?

This is, without a doubt, the most challenging period of EMS and healthcare history that we have faced together. Ever.

It’s really, really hard right now. And it’s hard in a different way than we’ve ever faced. Clinically hard. Operationally hard. Financially hard. Culturally hard.

Which also means that it’s personally hard. Whether you are directly providing care to a patient or supporting all the complexities that make that interaction possible and effective, it’s hard on us. The facts above reflect exactly that.

Now, I’ve been in EMS for a year or two (insert big-eye emoji), and one of the most rewarding feelings on the planet is creating order out of someone else’s chaos. I honestly believe that people like you choose this profession and support this profession in large part to make other people’s lives better.

Our mission is among the purest and most important on the face of the earth. Just think about how many people enjoyed a Thanksgiving with the people they loved because someone years before fixed their distorted anatomy or disrupted physiology.

It’s easy to forget the massive good a profession, an organization, or an individual can do. Gary gave us a little gift. When I first saw him, I was certain we would end up having to help him. But instead, he helped us.

When we work hard to take care of our patients, our communities, each other, our organization and our profession—They. Take. Care. Of. Us.

So. When our workplace is supportive, people want to join us. When our partners are fun, we seek them out. When our medicine is strong and sound, the medical profession embraces us. When our operation is accountable, we grow, evolve, and thrive when the art and science changes. When we come together as a team, we become the model of effective care. And when all that happens, WE, as individuals, can help tackle all the tough stuff in the most effective way possible.

I’d love to have more people choose EMS as a profession. I’d love to see them seek out advancement and growth. I’d love to see the science evolve to support better outcomes in unplanned illness and injury. I’d love to see hospital metrics and EMS metrics get better, not languish. I’d love to help communities become safer. And I would absolutely love for every one of us individually to be a part of that. I promise. That’s the way we make things so much better.

So tonight, on this day after Thanksgiving, I want to tell you that I’m not just thankful for what you do, I’m also extremely grateful. My daughter taught me there’s a difference. The definition of thankful is “pleased and relieved.” The definition of grateful is “feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness and gratitude.” In that spirit, I wanted to share that I’m grateful for you and I’m grateful for EMS.

We need the best in one another right now. There are four legs in our Bench of EMS Strength:

  • Taking care of ourselves
  • Taking care of our partners
  • Taking care of our patients
  • Taking care of our organizations

There is plenty of hard stuff ahead, so let’s do this. We can sit in the warmest booth in the place. I’m so grateful for that.

So, that’s it from my World. Happy Friday, and happy Thanksgiving.

Ed

OSHA Publishes Mental Health Resources

OSHA Publishes Resources to Assist Employers with Mental Health & Wellness

The United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration has posted numerous resources and tools for employers to utilize to combat workplace stress.  OSHA has published these resources following a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2021 that reported burnout and stress at an all-time high across all professions and that “actions from their employers would help their mental health.”

The resources published by OSHA include:

  1. Guides for Employers for both Senior Managers and Frontline Supervisors
  2. Mental Health Checklists for Senior Managers and Frontline Supervisors
  3. Workplace Stress Sample Survey Questions
  4. Myth Buster Fact Sheets about Workplace Stress
  5. Workplace Postings regarding Workplace Stress & Mental Health
  6. Public Service Announcements on Suicide Prevention Month
  7. Training Resources for Employers

Employers are starting to recognize the impacts that worker mental health has in the workplace.  Statistics cited by OSHA reveal that workplace stress has been reported to cause 120,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.  Nearly 83% of workers suffer from work-related stress and more than half of those report that workplace stress impacts their home life.  Importantly, for every $1.00 spent on ordinary mental health concerns, employers see a $4.00 return in productivity gains.

The American Psychological Association encourages employers to develop mental health and wellness programs in the workplace.  They recommend that employers go beyond simply offering an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). They recommend a cross-departmental review of your company’s EAP offerings to assess if they are meeting your workforce needs.  Also, ensure that your program includes mental health professionals from diverse backgrounds and specialties.  Additionally, they encourage launching a communications campaign about the things that your EAP professionals can cover, including stress, mental health, and financial guidance. Most importantly, ensure that your frontline leaders are informed and able to communicate the EAP availability and offerings to your team.

Under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), all employers sponsored health plans are required to offer the same level of health coverage for mental health-related concerns as for any other medical concerns. Most short- and long-term disability insurance plans offer a limited number of free Employee Assistance Plan visits as part of the included benefits. Lastly, American Ambulance Association members get free access to the Counselor Match Program, which provides access to mental health counselors with extensive experience in working with EMS and public safety professionals.

If you need assistance with this, or any other workplace challenges, please contact the AAA at hello@ambulance.org.

SAVVIK Foundation Study on Diversity in EMS

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the emergency medical service community.

Delaware State University has teamed with the Savvik Foundation, a non-profit representing
emergency medical service (EMS) to assess equity within the EMS profession. We have created a tool to assess equity in the EMS profession.

Participants will be eligible to receive a $20 Amazon gift card upon completion of this survey. This information is confidential and anonymous. We will not be using your name in any publications regarding this process.

By responding to the questions, you are permitting us to use this information to guide
our recommendations and share our findings in articles.

If you have any questions regarding your participation in this study please contact the
principal investigator, Dr. Knolan Rawlins, at krawlins@desu.edu or Ms. Chanel Haman in
the Office of Sponsored Programs at 302.857.6834 or chaman@desu.edu.

Thank you,
Dr. Knolan Rawlins

Participate In Survey

4th Annual Study Shows Worsening EMS Turnover

Results from AAA/Newton 360 Fourth Annual EMS Industry Turnover Study Shows Worsening Employee Turnover

The American Ambulance Association (AAA) and Newton 360, an Emergency Medical Services (EMS)-based workforce management software platform, joined forces again this year to conduct the fourth annual survey of employee turnover in the EMS industry. The 2022 survey presents turnover data from 119 EMS organizations, representing more than 12,000 employees. This year, the survey included data regarding the percentage of positions reported to be open at the time of the survey, which showed that EMS agencies are having difficulty filling open positions.

Over the last few years, EMS organizations were impressive in meeting the challenges in the face of the continuing COVID-19 global pandemic. The EMS workforce rose to the challenge and battled the disease, despite the workforce shortages that have plagued the EMS profession and other healthcare partners for nearly a decade. EMS organizations have offered innovative solutions to public health crises, including establishing testing and vaccinations sites around the country, suggesting that EMS employers and employees are prepared to expand their role to include greater provision of preventive services and community-based healthcare.

Turnover Rates by Year by Occupational Category

(2021 Results Appear in Parentheses Below the 2022 Results)

 

  Average Turnover for the Year 2021 Percentage of Open Positions Summer of 2022
Occupation Overall Turnover Voluntary Turnover Involuntary Turnover Open Rate
Full-time EMT 36%

(24%)

31%

(19%)

5%

(5%)

11%
Part-time EMT 36%

(28%)

36%

(24%)

4%

(5%)

39%
Full-time Paramedic 27%

(26%)

26%

(20%)

3%

(3%)

30%
Part-time Paramedic 30%

(23%)

29%

(19%)

2%

(3%)

55%
Supervisor 21%

(15%)

16%

(11%)

2%

(3%)

13%
Dispatch 29%

(30%)

22%

(23%)

6%

(6%)

15%

 

Voluntary and overall turnover increased for 2022, with the turnover rate being in the 20 to 36 percent range for EMTs and Paramedics, a 6% increase over the prior year. Meaning that EMS agencies are experiencing a full turnover of all staff every 3-4 years. Greater than one third of all new hires, turnover within their first year of employment. Not surprisingly, this converted into a relatively high rate of currently open positions, especially for EMTs and Paramedics at EMS agencies around the country.

In keeping with prior year’s surveys, the primary reasons for cited for turnover across all positions within EMS agencies is low pay and benefits, followed by a change in career. While many agencies offered stipends and increase wages in an effort to incentivize employees, it has not flattened the turnover curve. One of the key findings in this year’s survey is the significant increase in open positions for those EMTS and Paramedics working in a part time capacity.  The open position rate for part-time paramedics was at a staggering 55%, suggesting that those who previously worked EMS as a second job no longer find it an attractive part time career choice.

This study evidences a need to embark upon a larger initiative to collect data on the EMS workforce in the U.S. A report published by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) stated that there will be a need for an additional 40,000 EMS personnel by 2030, in part, because of the recognition of the valuable education, training, and experience individuals working in the EMS field offer in other healthcare settings. This will necessitate an extensive understanding of the nature and reasons for turnover in EMS-related occupations.

New EEOC Guidance on COVID-19 Testing

EEOC Issued New Guidance on Employer Mandatory COVID-19 Testing Policies

On July 12, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance, What
You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, which
impacted several long-standing COVID-19-related policies. The most significant policy change in the
latest guidance was related to employer mandatory COVID-19 testing. The updated guidance is not likely
to significantly impact EMS employer testing practices for field personnel, but could for those who work
in administrative or non-patient facing roles.

In the latest guidance, the EEOC changed its previous position that employers could generally require
COVID-19 testing for most employees. The EEOC had previously taken the position that it believed that
COVID-19 viral testing was per se, job-related and consistent with business necessity, regardless of the
employer type. Under the latest guidance, the EEOC is now stating that employers will need to more
closely analyze whether viral testing is job-related and consistent with business necessities. In doing so,
employers should utilize any of these factors:

 The Center for Disease Control (CDC) level of community transmission.
 The vaccination status of employees.
 The degree of breakthrough infections are possible for vaccinated workers.
 The transmissibility of current variants.
 The possible severity of illness from a current variant.

In most instances, EMS employers who require COVID-19 viral testing for field employees for ongoing,
symptomatic, or return to work reasons, are likely to meet the job related and consistent with business
necessity requirement. However, for those employees who are in non-patient-facing roles, it will be far
more difficult to justify mandatory COVID-19 testing and employers should reconsider their position on
mandatory testing.

The guidance also included updates to clarify the timeline factors to consider when handling reasonable
accommodation exceptions for vaccinations and how there could be a reasonable pandemic-related
delay. However, they acknowledged that this is likely less impactful at this point in the pandemic.
Additionally, the guidance highlighted that employers are not under an obligation to engage an
employee who has a serious health condition if the employee has not requested an accommodation
from vaccination.

Many EMS employers are currently required to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees who may
enter or interact with the patients or staff of a covered healthcare facility unless they have a covered
religious or disability-related exemption. After nearly two years of the pandemic and the availability of
COVID-19 vaccinations, those employees who wish to be vaccinated would have done so by now. Those
who remain unvaccinated are doing so by choice.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the updated guidance or any COVID-19 related
workplace practice, be sure to contact the American Ambulance Association for assistance at
hello@ambulance.org.

SURVEY | Ambulance Industry Employee Turnover Study

The American Ambulance Association is partnering with Newton 360, an ambulance industry partner and Human Resource support firm, to conduct our fourth annual industry turnover study. Our intent is to comprehensively collect and analyze ambulance industry employee turnover data so as to produce a report that provides useful and actionable data. We are inviting EMS organizations to participate in the study. The study will be conducted and managed by Dennis Doverspike, PhD, and Rosanna Miguel, PhD, who are associated with the Center for Applied Talent Analytics at John Carroll University. Each individual or organizational response will be strictly confidential.

The purpose of the study is to better quantify and understand the reasons for turnover at nearly every organizational level within the EMS Industry. Thank you very much for your time and support.

Laying the Groundwork for Reducing Employee Turnover

Why participate in the survey?

  1. Educate elected officials, municipalities, and healthcare clients. The insight gained from this survey can help influence the actions, practices, or decisions of officials regarding regulatory and funding policies at the federal, regional, or local level. Specifically, this important data can help validate the critical staffing challenges faced by the EMS industry. This year, we continue to have queries related to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), to better understand impacts of the PHE on EMS turnover and its related costs.
  2. This study is critical to gaining insight into combating staff shortages. The AAA / Newton 360 2022 Ambulance Industry Employee Turnover Study aims to yield the information that organizations need to identify and benchmark their turnover challenges. Over the years this survey has been conducted, it has generated the largest response to a turnover survey ever published for the private EMS industry.
  3. Participating organizations will have full access to the final report at no charge. The comprehensive results of the study will be shared exclusively with each participating organization. Shorter write-ups and summaries of the results may be shared at conferences or published in relevant periodicals or journals.

Before You Start

It is recommended you gather information about your employees and about turnover before completing the questionnaire.

In this survey, we will be asking about headcount (filled and open positions), number of employees leaving the organization, and reasons for employees leaving. We will be asking these questions for each of the following job categories: supervisor, dispatch, EMT, part-time EMT, paramedic, and part-time paramedic. Headcount refers to the number of filled and open positions for each job category at the end of 2021. Filled positions refer to the number of employees in each job category that were on payroll at the end of 2021. For each job category, the number of filled positions should be added to the number of open positions at the end of 2021 to determine the total headcount.

The survey can be accessed by following the link below. It will open on July 5th, 2022, and close at end of day, July 15th, 2022.

https://johncarroll.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3gtyd4SaQnkevvU

Thank you,

Scott Moore, Esq.
Newton 360
Workforce Dynamics, Inc.
(781) 236-4411 office
(781) 771-9914 cellular
www.newton360.com

 

US DOL | Building Mental Health-Friendly Workplaces

The U.S. Department of Labor cordially invites you to a virtual event in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month.

Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Time: 2:00 p.m. ET

Location: Streaming online

Register: Click here to register to receive the accessible event link.

Tune in to learn about the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to promoting mental health-friendly workplaces and ensuring America’s workers can access the equitable and inclusive mental health services they need. Featuring insightful dialogues and knowledge sharing, the event will explore mental health parity, the role of the workplace in addressing the nation’s mental health crisis and strategies for fostering work environments that support workers with mental health conditions.

Featured guests will include:

  • Marty Walsh, U.S. Secretary of Labor
  • Julie Su, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor
  • Ali Khawar, Acting Assistant Secretary, Employee Benefits Security Administration
  • Taryn Williams, Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability Employment Policy

Please join us for this special event!

Click here to register to receive the accessible event link.

U.S. Department of Labor
Employee Benefits Security Administration

DRIVING CHANGE • CREATING OPPORTUNITY

Infection Prevention and Control for the EMS/911 Workforce: Public Comment Requested

Draft Report on Infection Prevention and Control for the EMS/911 Workforce Released: Public Comment Requested
From EMS.gov on April 12, 2022

The draft report for the technical brief on Infection Prevention and Control for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS)/911 workforce has been released by the Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) Program at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The draft report is available for review and feedback through April 22, 2022 on Effective Healthcare’s website.

The technical brief summarizes the latest evidence on infectious pathogen exposure among the EMS/911 workforce and offers recommendations for the prevention, recognition, and control of infectious diseases and other related exposures that may be acquired in occupational settings.

The AHRQ is requesting feedback from the community to improve the final technical brief. The agency values feedback and will consider all comments received.

Submit Input

AHRQ is a government agency that produces evidence-based guidance to improve the quality of healthcare delivery. It coordinates these efforts with partners in the field to ensure the evidence is understood and put into practice. For more information on the EPC Program, visit here. This project is supported by NHTSA’s Office of EMS, which strives to reduce death and disability by providing leadership and coordination to the EMS community in assessing, planning, developing, and promoting comprehensive, evidence-based emergency medical services and 911 systems.

DOL Electronic Injury & Illness Reporting

Proposed Changes to the OSHA Electronic Injury & Illness Reporting Requirements

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing amendments to its occupational injury and illness recordkeeping regulation, 29 CFR 1904.41. The current regulation requires certain employers to electronically submit their summary injury and illness data (Form 300A) to OSHA annually. OSHA uses these reports to identify and respond to emerging hazards and makes aspects of the information publicly available.

In addition to reporting their Annual Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, the proposed rule would require certain establishments in certain high-hazard industries to electronically submit additional information from their Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, as well as their Injury and Illness Incident Report (Form 300, 300A, & 301). The latest proposed rule will require certain employers to submit more detailed information and is a return to the original electronic data submission rule that was proposed in 2016 and rolled back in 2017, prior to the rule taking effect. EMS organizations will be included in those industries that are considered high-hazard and thus, required to submit this information.

As we reported last month, OSHA reported that there was a 249% increase in illnesses and injuries reported by healthcare employers in 2020. This is no surprise given that this was at the heart of the pandemic. OSHA believes this rule will improve the agency’s ability to use the information in its enforcement and compliance assistance efforts to identify workplaces where workers are at high risk.

The proposed rule would:

  • Require establishments with one hundred (100) or more employees in certain high-hazard industries to electronically submit information from their OSHA Forms 300, 301, and 300A to OSHA once a year. Currently, only the Form 300A summary data is submitted electronically.
  • Update the classification system used to determine the list of industries covered by the electronic submission requirement.
  • Remove the current requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees not in a designated industry to electronically submit information from their Form 300A to OSHA annually.
  • Require establishments to include their company name when making electronic submissions to OSHA.

Under the proposed rule, establishments with 20-99 employees in certain high-hazard industries would continue to be required to electronically submit information from their OSHA Form 300A annual summary to OSHA annually.

Those interested can submit comments must do so by May 30, 2022. If you have questions about your organization’s reporting requirements under the OSHA Regulations, be sure to contact the AAA at hello@ambulance.org for assistance.

DOL COVID-19 Exposure Rule-Making

The United States Department of Labor (US DOL) has published a notice of intent to partially reopen the rule-making process to permit additional comment and a public hearing on certain aspects of the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare employers which was originally published in June 2021. OSHA is seeking further input from stakeholders as they develop a final standard. The public hearing will begin on April 27, 2022.

The agency is reopening the rulemaking record to allow for new data and comments on topics, including the following:

  • Alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for healthcare infection control procedures.
  • Additional flexibility for employers to permit less prescriptive requirements
  • Removal of scope exemptions.
  • Tailoring controls to address interactions with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Employer support for employees who wish to be vaccinated.
  • Limited coverage of construction activities in healthcare settings.
  • COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting provisions.
  • Triggering requirements based on community transmission levels.
  • The potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2 into a second novel strain.
  • The health effects and risk of COVID-19 since the ETS was issued.

OSHA made it clear that it is not proposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers. However, they are seeking comments regarding how it could help employers further support healthcare worker employees in their vaccination and boosting efforts. This could include paid leave, including travel time, for those seeking vaccinations or boosters.

The notice in the Federal Register had a slightly more relaxed tone as many areas in the country have seen a significant drop-off in cases.  If you are interested in submitting comments, you can do so electronically at www.regulations.gov.  If you wish to attend the video-based public hearing, you must file a notice of intention to appear with the US DOL within 14 days of the notice being officially published in the Federal Register.

If you have any questions about your current obligations under the OSHA rules, please email the AAA at hello@ambulance.org.

EMS Gives Life | EMT Reid Needs a Living Kidney Donor

URGENT:  Fellow first responder Reid Cappel is in kidney failure and needs a kidney transplant.  A living donor is his best chance at survival. 


For years, Reid Cappel has selflessly served his New Jersey community as an emergency medical technician. Now, it is his turn to ask for a lifeline from his fellow public health and public safety professionals. Help Reid find a living kidney donor, so that he can get back to doing what he does best: caring for others.

Anyone who is healthy and eligible to be a kidney donor can give Reid the gift of life.  A donor does not have to be a direct match, can live anywhere in the US, and will have access to donor protections and resources.  EMS Gives Life, a nonprofit organization for first responders, by first responders, will provide guidance to our EMS, fire, and police brethren who are considering living donation.

All inquiries will be held in complete confidence.  There is no commitment required to learn more.  Meet Reid and learn more about living kidney donation at  www.emsgiveslife.org/Reid.

 

EMS1 Webinar | Navigating a path to career satisfaction

Limited options for professional growth and the lack of a clear career path are barriers to recruitment, retention and career longevity.

The EMS Burnout Repair Kit series, presented by EMS1 and Zoll, equips individuals at all levels in EMS with tools for dealing with the primary sources of burnout, helping them emerge as better, happier providers and more complete people.

In this installment, a panel comprised of individuals representing different career paths in EMS and leaders from progressive agencies will discuss resources for career advancement and resiliency, how to find the path that is right for you, and how agencies can support providers in advancing their careers.

Join the live discussion, March 1 at 1 p.m. CT

Register Free

Meet the speakers 

Carly Alley

Carly Alley is the executive director for Riggs Ambulance Service in Merced, California. Earlier in her career, Alley served as a firefighter-EMT in the U.S. Forest Service while earning her paramedic certification. After being hired by Riggs, she transitioned to the agency’s tactical EMS program, where she spent 10 years as the team leader before moving into administration.

Michael Fraley, BS, BA, NRP

Michael Fraley has over 25 years of experience in EMS in a wide range of roles, including flight paramedic, EMS coordinator, service director and educator. Fraley began his career in EMS while earning a bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University. He also earned a BA in business administration from Lakeland College.

When not working as a paramedic or the coordinator of a regional trauma advisory council, Michael serves as a public safety diver and SCUBA instructor in northern Wisconsin.

John (JP) Peterson, MS, MBA

JP Peterson is the newly appointed executive director at Mecklenburg EMS Agency (MEDIC) in Charlotte, North Carolina. He started his career as an EMT in Chicago in 2000 and most recently served as vice president of Florida operations for PatientCare EMS Solutions.

He is licensed as a paramedic in Florida and North Carolina, and holds National Board Certification as an occupational therapist. He has completed Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification and is a graduate of the American Ambulance Association, Ambulance Service Manager Course. JP received the Pinellas County Commissioner, John Morroni Award for first responders in 2013.

JP is a past president of the Florida Ambulance Association. He is a member of the North Carolina Association of EMS Administrators as well as the AAA Bylaws, Professional Standards and Ethics committees.

Bloomberg Radio | President Baird on the Workforce Shortage

Fantastic Bloomberg Radio interview with President Shawn Baird covering key causes and impacts of the EMS workforce shortage.

Balance of Power Podcast • Browse all episodes
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/audio/2022-02-11/balance-of-power-ems-worker…
Balance of Power: EMS Worker Shortage Crisis (Radio)

Shawn Baird, President of the American Ambulance Association, discusses the shortage of emergency medical workers and paramedics. He spoke with Bloomberg’s David Westin.

Listen Now

EMS Gives Life | EMT Reid Needs a Living Kidney Donor

URGENT:  Fellow first responder Reid Cappel is in kidney failure and needs a kidney transplant.  A living donor is his best chance at survival. 


For years, Reid Cappel has selflessly served his New Jersey community as an emergency medical technician. Now, it is his turn to ask for a lifeline from his fellow public health and public safety professionals. Help Reid find a living kidney donor, so that he can get back to doing what he does best: caring for others.

Anyone who is healthy and eligible to be a kidney donor can give Reid the gift of life.  A donor does not have to be a direct match, can live anywhere in the US, and will have access to donor protections and resources.  EMS Gives Life, a nonprofit organization for first responders, by first responders, will provide guidance to our EMS, fire, and police brethren who are considering living donation.

All inquiries will be held in complete confidence.  There is no commitment required to learn more.  Meet Reid and learn more about living kidney donation at  www.emsgiveslife.org/Reid.

 

Statement for House Ways & Means Hearing on America’s Mental Health Crisis

Committee on Ways and Means

U.S. House of Representatives Hearing on “America’s Mental Health Crisis”

Statement of Shawn Baird, President, American Ambulance Association

February 2, 2022

Chairman Neal, Ranking Member Brady, and members of the Committee, on behalf of the members of the American Ambulance Association (AAA), I greatly appreciate the opportunity to provide you with a written statement on America’s Mental Health Crisis. Simply put, America’s hometown heroes who provide emergency medical services and transitional care need the Congress to recognize the significant stress and trauma paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) have experienced as a result of this pandemic. The AAA urges members of Congress not to forget these heroes and to expressly include all ground ambulance service personnel in efforts to address America’s Mental Health Crisis.

Emergency medical services (EMS) professionals are ready at a moment’s notice to provide life-saving and life-sustaining treatment and medical transportation for conditions ranging from heart attack, stroke, and trauma to childbirth and overdose. These first responders proudly serve their communities with on-demand mobile healthcare around the clock. Ground ambulance service professionals have been at the forefront of our country’s response to the mental health crisis in their local communities. Often, emergency calls related to mental health services are triaged to the local ground ambulance service to address.

While paramedics and EMTs provide important emergency health care services to those individuals suffering from a mental or behavioral health crisis, these front-line workers have been struggling to access the federal assistance they need to address the mental health strain that providing 24-hour care, especially during a COVID-19 pandemic, has placed on them. We need to ensure that there is equal access to mental health funding for all EMS agencies, regardless of their form of corporate ownership so that all first responders can receive the help and support they need.

EMS’s Enhanced Role in the Pandemic

As if traditional ambulance service responsibilities were not enough, paramedics and EMTs have taken on an even greater role on the very front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In many areas, EMS professionals lead Coronavirus vaccination, testing, and patient navigation. As part of the federal disaster response subcontract, EMS personnel even deploy to other areas around the country to pandemic hotspots and natural disasters to bolster local healthcare resources in the face of extraordinarily challenging circumstances.

Mental & Behavioral Health Challenges Drive Staffing Shortages on the Front Line

Myriad studies show that first responders face much higher-than-average rates of post- traumatic stress disorder[1], burnout[2], and suicidal ideation[3]. These selfless professionals work in the field every day at great risk to their personal health and safety—and under extreme stress.

Ambulance service agencies and fire departments do not keep bankers’ hours. By their very nature, EMS operations do not close during pandemic lockdowns or during extreme weather emergencies. “Working from home” is not an option for paramedics and EMTs who serve at the intersection of public health and public safety. Many communities face a greater than 25% annual turnover[4] of EMS staff because of these factors. In fact, across the nation EMS agencies face a 20% staffing shortage compounded by near 20% of employees on sick leave from COVID-19. This crisis-level staffing is unsustainable and threatens the public safety net of our cities and towns.

Sadly, to date, too few resources have been allocated to support the mental and behavioral health of our hometown heroes. I write today to ask for Congressional assistance to help the helpers as they face the challenges of 2022 and beyond.

Equity for All Provider Types

Due to the inherently local nature of EMS, each American community chooses the ambulance service provider model that represents the best fit for its specific population, geography, and budget. From for-profit entities to municipally-funded fire departments to volunteer rescue squads, EMS professionals share the same duties and responsibilities regardless of their organizational tax structure. They face the same mental health challenges and should have equal access to available behavioral health programs and services.

Many current federal first responder grant programs and resources exclude the tens of thousands of paramedics and EMTs employed by for-profit entities from access. These individuals respond to the same 911 calls and provide the same interfacility mobile healthcare as their governmental brethren without receiving the same behavioral health support from

Federal agencies. To remedy this and ensure equitable mental healthcare access for all first responders, we recommend that:

  • During the current public health emergency and for at least two years thereafter, eligibility for first responder training and staffing grant programs administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (such as SAMHSA Rural EMS Training Grants and HHS Occupational Safety and Health Training Project Grants) should be expanded to include for-profit entities. Spending on training and services for mental health should also be included as eligible program
  • Congress should authorize the establishment of a new HHS grant program open to public and private nonprofit and for-profit ambulance service providers to fund paramedic and EMT recruitment and training, including employee education and peer-support programming to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions and substance use
  • Any initiatives to fund hero pay or death benefits for first responders should be inclusive of all provider models—for-profit, non-profit, and

The rationale for the above requests is twofold. First, ensuring the mental health and wellness of all EMS professionals—regardless of their employer’s tax status—is the right thing to do.

Second, because keeping paramedics and EMTs employed by private ambulance agencies who are on the frontlines of providing vital medical care and vaccinations during this pandemic is the smart thing to do.

Thank you for considering this request to support ALL of our nation’s frontline heroes. They are ready to answer your call for help, 24/7—two years into this devastating pandemic, will Congress answer theirs?

Please do not hesitate to contact American Ambulance Association Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Tristan North, at tnorth@ambulance.org or 202-486-4888 should you have any questions.


  • Prevalence of PTSD and common mental disorders amongst ambulance personnel: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr 2018;53(9):897-909.
  • ALmutairi MN, El Mahalli AA. Burnout and Coping Methods among Emergency Medical Services Professionals. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2020;13:271-279. Published 2020 Mar 16. doi:10.2147/JMDH.S244303
  • Stanley, I. H., Hom, M. A., & Joiner, T. E. (2016). A systematic review of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and Clinical Psychology Review, 44, 25–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j. cpr.2015.12.002
  • Doverspike D, Moore S. 2021 Ambulance Industry Employee Turnover Study. 3rd Washington, DC: American Ambulance Association; 2021.

New for Members | 2022 Human Resources Manual!

The 2022 Human Resources Toolkit includes the addition of numerous practice notes intended to provide EMS leaders with a more practical understanding of the legal principles that necessitate much of the language found in many of the sample policies in the HR Manual. Additionally, the practice notes provide suggestions for EMS agencies to better insulate the organization from legal liability.

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