21 Steps To The 21st Century: Preparing Fire Service EMS For The Future

The year 2000 is rapidly approaching and demands on fire service EMS personnel have never been greater. How will you, as an EMS professional, face tomorrow? Eric W. Heckerson outlines 21 critical steps each emergency medical services professional needs...


As the turn of the century draws ever closer, those in the fire service EMS continue to wonder what the future may hold for pre-hospital care. As an integral component of the nation's ever-changing health care system, EMS professionals will most certainly feel the effects of managed care and the...


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Paid or volunteer, civilian or sworn, rural, urban or suburban, we are all in this together. Each of us must do what we can to foster the growth and improvement of this functional group without excluding or alienating anyone.

Embrace Technology

18. Look at incorporating technology into service delivery.

If present technology is any indication, the year 2000 and beyond will be filled with a cadre of advancements to enhance service delivery. Staying on the cutting edge of technology is the only effective way of competing and positioning for the future.

Make the best use of computers and the countless software programs available for word processing, presentations, graphics displays, database management and financial record-keeping. Some departments have a formal information technology plan to help guide them through this process.

And, Above All...

19. Go beyond tradition to eliminate the status quo.

20. Never lose sight of the mission.

21. Continue to provide the highest quality patient care.

Hundreds of years of tradition have built EMS into one of the most respected, effective career fields. EMS providers, public and private, have built on tradition to provide quality patient care. When, however, does such tradition end to make way for progress? Challenge your organization to rid itself of activities that have been done for years simply because "it's always been done that way." And keep the mission statement at the forefront of everything the organization does.

However the system in your area works, the priority is patient care. We must consider each and every person encountered in the course of a day or shift as a customer. In doing so, providing the best possible patient care means providing the highest-quality customer service possible.


Eric W. Heckerson, RN, MA, NREMT-P, is an EMS Specialist for the Mesa, AZ, Fire Department and is active in EMS program development and management at the local and state levels. He is a member of the adjunct faculty of Mesa Community College's EMT/Fire Science Department.