Tuesday, January 5, 2010

History Of Emergency Medical Services

I debated posting this video for a little while as it is kind of long and "teachy", but it sent me right down memory lane, as well as addressing some here and now issues near the end. It gave me some historical perspective on something I ended up doing and loving, almost by a happenstance. So I want to share it with you.

Yes, we've visited the history of EMS before. I gave you a link to the report on accidental death and disability, and I introduced you to Freedom House. We'll link up to those posts here so you can go to them easily.

In this video there is a reference to the Hyatt Regency sky walk disaster here in Kansas City, MO. That event, in 1981, taxed the then rather haphazard EMS system of this city to the max. It was that memory that stood behind the eventual formation of the Metropolitan Ambulance Services Trust, MAST. MAST, along with Johnson County Med-Act on the Kansas side, eventually provided some of the best, most cutting edge EMS in the country, with cardiac arrest save rates and response times in the top 10 of the nation. Now we are coming full circle, barring further political maneuvers, MAST will cease to exist and the EMS service will be merged into the Kansas City Fire Department.

I became involved in EMS in 1976 in Vermont. Back then, we made our own backboards, out of sturdy wood, stain/paint and finish. I was trained in CPR with some of the newest standards. We had a proper federally funded Type I ambulance. That service, which was established in 1968, still exists today, with dedicated volunteers, and provides ambulance service for at least four towns. Vermont now has state wide 911 service, and considerable effort was made to give every occupied dwelling a street or house number. Many of the towns have established FAST squads, or organized their fire department to go to scenes quickly, and provide care before the ambulance gets there. This service has provided care to two of my relatives, and I am proud to have been a part of this organization. We were part of the vanguard. While in college in PA, I worked BLS level transport ambulance, and later became a part of a volunteer unit trying to revolutionize the EMS care in our Main Line suburban township. I also was a CPR instructor. While I was there, our unit transitioned to a ALS or advanced life support unit. When I left, the service was still trying to convince the police department that we were a far better choice then the back of a paddy wagon.

Now, I am an RN, who finds the ER to be my favorite type of nursing. One of the gaps in the video, besides its lack of recognition for Freedom House, is its neglect to mention the Emergency Nurses Association. ER nurses are a special breed!

Looking at this video, and looking back, I am both amazed and gratified to have played a small part in encouraging and being involved in the development of prehospital care and treatment of the sick and injured in this country.

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