Recognize The Need for EMS Research
In most fields of human endeavor, there is a significant time delay from a new discovery until the new methods are integrated into practice. EMS has a similar delay in implementation of research results. This delay can negatively impact patient care by perpetuating erroneous or ineffective practices and by inhibiting timely implementation of new effective treatments.
The problem of translating research into practice is especially difficult in EMS. Most EMS professionals are not trained to critically evaluate new treatments and so they do not possess the skills to decide whether evidence truly supports their use. Therefore, EMS agencies should employ physicians with the expertise to evaluate new treatments and with the ability to develop and improve patient care protocols based on scientific findings. These physicians should work to educate EMS providers about the scientific process of linking research findings to clinical care. This relationship will provide an environment in which EMS personnel will be able to adopt new protocols with an understanding of how decisions were made. The culture within EMS needs to change to promote research and demand evidence before implementing new system modifications, medications, or drug therapies.
The efforts of EMS professionals, delivery systems, academic centers, and public policy makers should be organized to support and apply the results of research.
· NHTSA should adopt a curriculum for EMS educators that teaches critical review of the scientific literature.
· The National Fire Academy should continue to offer courses that convey the importance of EMS research and detail specific strategies by which fire services can facilitate EMS research.
· Federal agencies should adopt or develop a curriculum for EMS administrative officers that will instill the importance of evidence-based decision-making, reduction of medical errors, and introspection into the culture of EMS organizations.
· Appropriate research principles should be included in the core content of EMS education of first responders, EMT-Basics, EMT-Intermediates, and EMT-Paramedics.
· National and state accrediting agencies for EMS educational programs should require that familiarity with the scientific literature be an essential component of EMS education programs.
· Academic institutions should develop training pathways for EMS professionals interested in pursuing a research career.
· EMS agencies should contribute to the research process by agreeing to collaborate with academic institutions. Collaboration should include assistance with field data collection and patient enrollment in research studies.