Now, more than ever before, the spirit of the emergency services professional is recognized by people everywhere. Individuals from every walk of life comprehend the reality of the job these professionals do each day. Placing the safety of others above their own is their acknowledged responsibility. Rescue and treatment of ill and injured patients are their purpose as well as their gratification. The men and women who provide prehospital care are well aware of the unpredictable nature of emergency medical service (EMS). Prehospital care is given when and where it is needed: in urban settings with vertical challenges and gridlock; in rural settings with limited access; in confined spaces; within entrapments; or simply in the street, exposed to the elements. Despite the challenges, EMS professionals rise to the occasion to do their best with the resources available.
Despite more than 30 years of dedicated service by thousands of EMS professionals, academic researchers, and public policy makers, the nationís EMS system is treating victims of illness and injury with little or no evidence that the care they provide is optimal. A national investment in the EMS research infrastructure is necessary to overcome obstacles currently impeding the accumulation of essential evidence of the effectiveness of EMS practice. Funding is required to train new researchers and to help them establish their careers. Financial backing is needed to support the development of effective prehospital treatments for the diseases that drive the design of the EMS system, including injury and sudden cardiac arrest. Innovative strategies to make EMS research easier to accomplish in emergency situations must be implemented. Researchers must have access to patient outcome information in order to evaluate and improve prehospital care. New biomedical and technical advances must be evaluated using scientific methodology. Research is the key to maintaining focus on improving the overall health of the community in a competitive and cost conscious health care market. Most importantly, research is essential to ensure that the best possible patient care is provided in the prehospital setting.
The bravery and dedication of EMS professionals cannot be underestimated. Images of firefighters, EMS personnel and others going into danger, while others are evacuating will remain burned in our collective consciousness. These professionals deserve the benefit of research to assist them in providing the best possible care in the challenging circumstances they encounter.
With this document, we are seeking support for elevating the science of EMS and prehospital care to the next level. It is essential that we examine innovative ways to deliver prehospital care. Strategies to protect the safety of both the patient and the public safety worker must be devised and tested. There are many questions that remain to be asked, many practices to be evaluated, and many procedures to be improved. Research is the key to obtaining the answers.