Often cited as the foundation of modern emergency medical services, this year EMS recognizes the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking whitepaper, Accidental Death and Disability.
The paper, released by the National Academy of Sciences in 1966, assessed the mortality and injury rate among civilians during a time in which the number of people killed on the nation’s roadways was near epidemic proportions.
The findings and recommendations in the report led to the development of an emergency medical services system that is much more sophisticated than the report’s authors likely predicted. As the industry looks ahead and plans for the next 50 years of EMS innovation, it’s important to reflect on the profession’s history, those who have and continue to shape the EMS landscape and the major milestones that helped create modern emergency medical services.
A Look Back
The origin of EMS in the US can be traced back to the systems of care that were created on the battlefields of the American Revolution. It was noted that two critical elements of EMS emerged during the revolution, “First it was recognized that a significant need existed for extensive and rapid transportation for the medically needy, especially the battle wounded, to designated medical facilities. Second a categorization of hospitals, between ‘camp’ and ‘regimental/general’, was devised as a means to sort patients according to the intensity of their medical needs.” About 200 years later the Accidental Death and Disability whitepaper was published, which is commonly accepted as the birth of the modern EMS system.
Building on the Past, Looking to the Future
The last 50 years of emergency medical services have been marked by great change, innovation and challenges that will continue to pave the way for improved systems of care. As the role of EMS within the healthcare continuum grows in importance and scope, a central area of focus is mobile integrated healthcare and community paramedicine. Another opportunity for EMS is the future of data collection and information sharing across the pre-hospital industry and the healthcare community.
It’s an exciting time for EMS as the community reflects on the progress of EMS over the last 50 years, and looks ahead to the next 50 and the incredible impact that EMS professionals will have on the communities and people they serve. So with all this I want to say that over the last 26 years of my career in EMS I am honored to serve with the most dedicated, compassionate, and professional EMS providers in Southeast Arkansas here at Chicot Memorial Medical Center EMS. We truly are a compassionate group of EMS providers that “Are Called to Care.” Chicot Memorial Medical Center is in its fourth year of providing EMS service to the residents of Chicot County and we are working hard to make continued progress in providing you with the best Quality Compassionate Care.
Paul Outlaw, LPI, NRP, is the EMS director at Chicot Memorial Medical Center