State of Illinois EMS… It’s time that you and I had a little talk. You see, I’m an EMT-Paramedic holding licensure in your fair state. I’m also a mostly life long resident except for a short, torrid affair with residency in the State of Iowa. I moved back, you welcomed me back with your open arms and I’ve been here ever since.
Except for now, State of Illinois EMS, while your EMT-Paramedic licensure will always be the first card I carry… I’ve been flirting with other states. Yes… it’s true. I have my licensure in Iowa as a Paramedic Specialist, and my Paramedic card from Wisconsin too. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, State of Illinois EMS but frankly their paramedicine is more exciting than yours is. Yes, State of Illinois EMS… the magic just seems to have gone out of our relationship. I can do so much more in the other states. They UNDERSTAND me and my need to take care of my patients to the best of my ability. They’ve given me exciting advanced techniques, medications, protocols, training and technology that enables me to breathe new life into my practice. They let me LIVE, State of Illinois EMS! They help my patients to live longer, fuller lives.
And now, State of Illinois EMS, this conversation comes on to the prospect of what we should do about our relationship.
Yes it’s been a torrid love affair, State of Illinois EMS. Really it has. Unfortunately, I’ve changed. It’s not you… it’s me.
Literally. It’s like you haven’t changed in ten years. What’s up with that? Medicine’s changed. Techniques and research have changed. Evidence based EMS practice has changed… but, State of Illinois EMS… you haven’t hardly changed a bit. You’re not a national state, your CE requirements are strange, your license hasn’t gotten easy reciprocity anywhere I’ve tried, and your policies are dictated by the ‘Little Kingdoms’ that you call EMS systems and EMS regions, and well… it’s just not working for me anymore.
I’m not leaving you, State of Illinois EMS. I wouldn’t, you mean too much to me and a good chunk of my income is dependent on that little green card I carry with your picture on it. Remember when you gave me that card, State of Illinois EMS? It seems like just yesterday… but it was a while ago I guess. We’ve been together a long time, haven’t we? I think that our relationship is worth salvaging, don’t you?
Here’s what I think we should do, State of Illinois EMS: Let’s work together on a plan that I’ve come up with. It’s a plan that I think will help fix everything that is wrong with our relationship. I think that the way you’re all set up, the way you’ve parceled yourself into EMS regions and the Little Kingdoms that you call “EMS Systems” has given too much control to local politics and individual egos without enough accountability. I think that the EMTs and Paramedics that work within these EMS systems, you know the ones working for actual EMS agencies, are actually “customers” of these EMS systems. Only these EMS systems seem to treat the EMTs and Paramedics like “Bothersome Bastard Stepchildren” instead of the customers they are and don’t give them any support or service.
Yes, I know that not all of these Little Kingdoms that you call EMS systems function like this, State of Illinois EMS… some actually treat their EMTs and Paramedics like (gasp) People. However, in my decade or so of toiling in these Little Kingdoms, State of Illinois EMS, I’ve seen that to be the exception and not the rule.
So here’s what I propose to you, State of Illinois EMS. I propose that we inject these three things into the whole system: Information, Competition, and Accountability.
Yep, I think that we will both benefit by adding healthy dashes of those three items into our relationship. I’ll explain:
- Information: I want to put every little policy, procedure, and standing medical order from every EMS system in Illinois on the interwebs. I want every form, personnel roster, and individual quirk of every Little Kingdom in the land to be posted up for scrutiny by every individual EMS provider and provider agency in the state and elsewhere. If they do something, I want everyone to know how and why they do it.
- Competition: When EMS systems compete, we win. Really, if your hardware store sells your widgets for cheaper than the store across the street, you’ll get more business. If they lower their prices to match yours but your service is better, you still get the business. If their service is just as good but your widgets are of better quality, you still get the business. They have to improve their service, quality, and price just as consistently as you do. It’s called competition and it’s healthy in any food chain or market. Right now as things stand, there’s barely any competition in the EMS systems in the state. EMS provider agencies stay within their systems usually no matter what the conditions are and only rarely change. It’s difficult for new and better ideas to flourish in the current system. It’s also hard for the EMTs and paramedics working under the systems to get any kind of service. Remember, I think that the EMTs, paramedics, and EMS provider agencies are customers of the EMS systems. Now they kneel… with competition and information, they can vote with their feet. EMS systems will be forced to improve or wither and die. The cream will rise to the top, the others… well they may be floaters or sinkers if you know what I mean.
- Accountability: Are EMS systems accountable to anyone? I mean, if there are complaints against them, to whom are the complaints addressed? If the paramedics and EMTs working under the system are treated like diseased cattle and they are unhappy mooing and coughing like that, whom do they complain to… their EMS provider agencies that don’t want to switch systems due to the immense amount of effort for no real perceived benefit? We need to make them accountable not only to competition, but accountable to a public airing of grievances and peer evaluation.
So there you have it, State of Illinois EMS. Three little words that I’ve come up with that I think will fix our long-term relationship. Sure, I’ll probably keep dabbling in the other states… but I feel entitled to because I know that I’m not your only one either. We can tell people that we have an “arrangement”.
Look, Illinois EMS could use some repairs. Not every EMS system behaves badly or treats their members poorly, and that’s just it. Those systems should be encouraged to flourish and expand. I don’t think that one blog, one blogger, or one paramedic can disband the Illinois practice of creating EMS systems… but I do think that there should be competition and accountability injected into the system.
So, could we do that?
If there’s any fellow Illinois EMS people out there reading this, feel free to interject. I’d love to get a conversation going on this. Grassroots activism to change EMS from the professional level up? Wow, that’s way EMS 2.0