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Pandemic Threatens Future of Emergency Medical Services

5 Apr 2021 7:43 PM | AIMHI Admin (Administrator)

Harvard Law source | Comments courtesy of Matt Zavadsky

Very interesting Blog from Mr. Podsiadlo. 

Lots of highlights, because his opinions may provide some talking points as we chat with public policy officials.

Tip of the hat to MedStar Operations Director, Chris Cunningham for finding this jewel!


Pandemic Threatens Future of Emergency Medical Services

March 17, 2021


By Benjamin Podsiadlo

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed persistent, wide-ranging existential threats to effective 911 emergency response.

The EMS (Emergency Medical Services) system, which sits at the intersection of emergency medicine and public safety, is the out-of-hospital component of the acute care health care system. The EMS mission is targeted at identifying, responding, assessing, treating, and entering suddenly ill and injured patients in the community into the health care system.

The EMS system’s viability is entirely dependent upon the capacity of its workforce of EMTs, paramedics, and 911 EMS telecommunicators to respond 24/7/365.

The devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on EMS include: severe damage to workforce sustainability; grossly insufficient logistical resourcing; and further erosion of cohesive system identity.

Workforce Sustainability

The outlook for the EMS workforce’s sustainability is grim. Frontline EMS providers’ wellbeing and livelihood is jeopardized by the pandemic’s persistent economic, mental health, physical health, and social impacts.

Countless EMTs and paramedics have been infected and sickened by COVID-19. Many have died from coronavirus; the group has the highest COVID-19 mortality rate of all first responders, and one of the highest of health care providers.

Mental wellness of EMS providers, a longstanding but inadequately addressed concern, reflects extraordinarily high rates of PTSD and suicide during “normal” times. At a baseline, paramedics commit suicide at greater than twice the rate of the general population.

EMTs are consistently recognized as amongst the lowest-paid essential high-reliability workers in the American workforce by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The burden upon the nation’s ambulance and EMS response capabilities is now so destabilized by the pandemic that in many cases it has permanently collapsed local EMS provider operations to the point of service disintegration.


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