EMS Agenda for the Future

The EMS Agenda for the Future provides an opportunity to examine what has been learned during America's EMS experience of the past three decades, and create a vision for the future. This opportunity comes at an important time, when those agencies, organizations and individuals that affect EMS are evaluating its role in the context of a changing health care system.

The EMS Agenda for the Future proposes a vision for the future of EMS. EMS of the future will be community-based health management that is integrated with the overall health care system. It will have the ability to identify and modify illness and injury risks, provide acute illness and injury follow-up, and contribute to the treatment of chronic conditions and community health monitoring. EMS will be integrated with other health care providers and public health and public safety agencies. It will improve community health and result in more appropriate use of acute health care resources. EMS will remain the public's emergency medical safety net.

To realize this vision, continued development of
14 EMS attributes is required. They are:

  • Integration of Health Services
  • EMS Research
  • Legislation and Regulation
  • System Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Medical Direction
  • Education Systems
  • Public Education
  • Prevention
  • Public Access
  • Communication Systems
  • Clinical Care
  • Information Systems
  • Evaluation

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in partnership with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, commissioned development of The EMS Agenda for the Future: Implementation Guide. Its purpose is to propose objectives that will lead to achieving the goals established by the EMS Agenda for the Future: Implementation Guide objectives correspond to the three broad areas in which diligent efforts must be continued. They are building bridges, creating tools and resources, and developing infrastructure. Bridges will strengthen partnerships and result in new and enhanced relationships among the many agencies, organizations and individuals with a stake in the future of EMS. These partnerships must seek diversified perspectives and invite enthusiastic participation if barriers on the path to the future are to be overcome. New tools and resources will enable progress and facilitate activities on widespread bases. Improved infrastructure will add to the capacity of EMS to affect community health.

Venturing toward the future vision for EMS is an ambitious undertaking. Activities must be initiated on national, state and local levels. Ten "priority objectives" (short, intermediate and long-term) are proposed to be the initial foci for all potential participants. The priority objectives provide the following directions:

  • Develop collaborative strategies to identify and address community health and safety issues.

  • Align the financial incentives of EMS and other health care providers and payers.

  • Participate in community-based prevention efforts.

  • Develop and pursue a national EMS research agenda.

  • Pass EMS legislation in each state to support innovation
    and integration.

  • Allocate adequate resources for medical direction.

  • Develop information systems that link EMS across its continuum.

  • Determine the costs and benefits of EMS to the community.

  • Ensure nationwide availability of 9-1-1 as the emergency telephone number.

  • Ensure that all calls for emergency help are automatically accompanied by location-identifying information.

The EMS Agenda for the Future: Implementation Guide is intended to be a tool for EMS providers, administrators and medical directors; health care providers, administrators and payers; public health and safety officials, local, state and federal government officials; organization and community leaders; and all other entities and people with a potential interest or influence on the structure or function of our nation's system for providing emergency medical care. We all must be committed to an EMS system that is accessible, reliable, and that contributes to the health of our communities. The EMS Agenda for the Future: Implementation Guide is a call for action to join partnerships that will lead to the exploration of possibilities for the future of EMS-a crucial part of the health care system and the public's emergency medical safety net.