“Paramedicine” in EMS’s Future?

Source: Asmati - 123RF

The National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) is considering changing the profession’s nomenclature.

NEMSAC outlined its concerns about the number of terms used to describe EMS and its practitioners over the years, and how this can be extremely confusing for the general public, elected officials and members of the media, as well as within healthcare and public safety.

The Council also recommended specific terminology to describe the practice of EMS clinicians and recommended the creation of a single term to describe all certified EMS practitioners.

With this in mind, the Council has brought together more than 20 EMS stakeholder organizations for a series of facilitated meetings to share their organizations’ and members’ views on the subject.

According to NEMSAC, a clear need has been identified to establish a national standard nomenclature regarding this discipline and profession.

The National Highway Safety Act (Public Law 89-564) identified emergency medical care as a necessary element in reducing death and disability associated with traffic accidents.

The term “emergency medical services” never actually appeared in the legislation. “Emergency services”, “emergency medical care”, “emergency service plans” and “transportation of the injured” were the associated phrases used. The law itself was void of specific language regarding EMS, as a proper noun, and its components.

However, regulations issued in 1969, pursuant to the Act, formally identified EMS as a particular service, along with its elements and characteristics.

Some of the terms used in EMS, and the associated personnel, include:

  • Emergency Medical Services;
  • Ambulance services;
  • Emergency ambulance services;
  • 9-1-1 ambulance services;
  • Medical transportation services; and
  • Critical care transportation services.

The all-encompassing term contemplated is “Paramedicine”.

The National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA) issued a Position Statement in July of 2012 that definitively defined paramedicine as “…an allied health profession focused on assisting individuals, families, and communities in attaining, re-attaining, and maintaining optimal health, often following acute or sudden onset of medical or traumatic events. “

Paramedicine is practiced predominantly in the out of hospital setting. The practice of paramedicine is based on the sciences of human anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology.