EMS has the right providers, in the right place, and at the right time for impactful proactive prevention programming.
The Risk Assessment and Programming (RAP) Toolkit is a simple resource that supports the creation of EMS-driven public health initiatives.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies and public health organizations address community health needs in distinct ways. Public health organizations work proactively and broadly across populations to try and prevent injuries or illnesses before they happen. In contrast, EMS agencies work reactively and treat injuries and disease in a one-on-one approach during 9-1-1 requests from their community.
Despite these different approaches, both groups often find themselves addressing similar community health issues—infectious diseases, child injuries, senior injuries, substance use, and so much more. It is in these areas of shared focus, where EMS and public health collaborations make a great deal of sense.
This is the core purpose of the RAP Toolkit — to highlight areas of common interest and promote collaboration that will accelerate both EMS and public health efforts. The RAP Toolkit is composed of multiple RAP Tools, with each RAP Tool focusing on a different community health issue.
We have built this tutorial to show you the functional anatomy of RAP Tools and how they qualify, quantify, and create a path to action.
A (Very) Brief History of EMS Prevention
The idea of EMS and public health partnership was first brought to national attention in the mid-1990s. At the time, EMS was only two decades old—a relative newcomer to the healthcare space. EMS leaders were eager to ensure the continued success of this new, yet important, industry.
In 1996, EMS stakeholders gathered to identify the most essential areas of EMS growth for the next twenty years. Their work resulted in the creation of a pivotal document called EMS Agenda for the Future. Ideas included in the Agenda helped steer some of the most important recent advancements of EMS — things like electronic patient records, evidence-based care, and information exchange. The document also highlighted the valuable role EMS providers could play in public health prevention efforts.
"In the future the success of EMS systems will be measured not only by the outcomes of their treatments, but also the results of their prevention efforts. Its expertise, resources, and positions in communities and the health care system make EMS an ideal candidate to serve lynchpin roles during multi-disciplinary, community-wide prevention initiatives. " -EMS Agenda for the Future, released 1996 Read the Full Text
This particular recommendation did not go unnoticed. Just four short years later, a joint meeting was convened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). EMS and Public Health officials from the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) led the milestone effort. A snapshot of their discussions was distributed in the form of a bulletin after their first national meeting.
"On April 28, 2000 an unprecedented event took place which promises to have far reaching implications for healthcare. For the first time, representatives of national emergency medical services (EMS) and public health organizations came together to discuss strategies for joining forces...
Farsighted professionals from both disciplines began to envision how a collaboration between these complimentary services could result not only in improved efficiency for their traditional functions, but also in increased opportunities for reaching underserved segments of the community." EMS & Public Health Bulletin, released 2000 Read the Full Text
The bulletin's language conveys the participants' excitement and their strong feelings about future joint opportunities. However, subsequent meetings and further work were sidelined by the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. The effort was put on pause as our country (and the world) diverted its attention to more pressing matters.
Recently, the topic was reignited and brought back into the national spotlight. From 2016 to 2018, EMS leaders worked to update the EMS Agenda for the Future. The effort saw the creation of a new visionary document — EMS Agenda 2050. Proactive prevention programming by EMS was again a central theme.
"In a people-centered EMS system... EMS systems will be an integral piece of a public health and healthcare system focused on preventing injuries and illness, rather than simply responding to them." EMS Agenda 2050, released 2018 Read the Full Text
As a small group of influential EMS leaders began to introduce proactive, preventative programs, the broader EMS and public health communities were left wondering what value such programs really offer.
The RAP Toolkit is designed to further advance this consensus into actionable guidance for California stakeholders through the creation of an easy, standardized approach to EMS and public health partnerships.
The Value of EMS in Public Health and Care Equity
The public is generally familiar with the role of EMTs and paramedics as care providers who respond to these community health issues. Patients understand that the advice, opinions, or care delivered by these EMS professionals are anchored in this prior experience. This gives EMTs and paramedics credibility that can be fundamental to program success.
Individuals facing preventable health issues often seek care from their local 9-1-1 systems which can be an indicator of increased needs relative to others within the affected population. This gives EMTs and paramedics unparalleled proximity to deliver critical resources to individuals with a demonstrated need.
Furthermore, EMS is the most publicly available resource—literally a call away. For a state seeking to address health inequities in under-resourced and rural communities, the potential value of an already-present EMS infrastructure to support public health outreach and initiatives cannot be ignored.
Simply put, EMS has the right providers, in the right place, and at the right time for impactful, proactive prevention programming.
NEXT: Learn the Three Types of Initiatives