Despite more than 30 years of dedicated service by thousands of emergency medical service professionals, academic researchers, and public policy makers, the Nation’s EMS system is treating victims of illness and injury with little or no evidence that the care they provide is optimal. A national investment of time and effort in EMS research is necessary to overcome obstacles that currently prevent the accumulation of essential evidence of the effectiveness of EMS practice. 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. EMS professionals deserve the benefit of research to assist them in providing the best possible care in the challenging circumstances they encounter.
The National EMS Research Agenda describes the history and current status of EMS research. Impediments to the growth of scientific investigation in the field are identified; and strategies are suggested for improving the quality and quantity of EMS research with the goal of providing a scientific foundation upon which to base current and future prehospital care. Its companion document, the National EMS Research Strategic Plan, takes a broad look at the research needs within EMS, and establishes a plan for investigating those items, with priority items identified by a consensus process by a multidisciplinary group of EMS experts. The plan provides guidance to clinicians, researchers, and EMS system managers as they plan research efforts to answer important questions. For more information on the National EMS Research Agenda and the National EMS Research Strategic Plan, contact Susan McHenry.