Culture of Safety
Last month the American College of Physicians (ACEP)
released its long awaited National EMS Culture of Safety Strategy
Document. This initiative was part of a
36-month cooperative agreement between the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA), with support from the Health Resources and Services
Administration’s (HRSA), EMS for Children (EMSC) Program, and the American
College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). The project stemmed from a
recommendation from NEMSAC, a group created to provide guidance to the U.S.
Department of Transportation and the NHTSA Office of EMS. The primary
objective of the project was to identify the safety issues facing the industry,
and develop a strategy for a new culture of safety within EMS. Last week ACEP gave a presentation on this
initiative to the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) in Washington, DC (who
requested the strategy be written to provide guidance to several Federal
agencies), who in turn advocated the initiative to the Federal Interagency
Committee on EMS (FICEMS).
As a body we
need to ensure we are striving to create not only a safe work environment for
ourselves, but also for the citizens we serve.
This safety strategy consists of six essential elements for advancing a
culture of safety in our industry:
Support and Resources
Safety Data System
for Reporting and Investigation
EMS community leaders envision an EMS Culture of Safety as
one in which safety considerations and risk awareness permeate the full
spectrum of activities of EMS everywhere, every day—by design, attitude and
habit. This Strategy document is intended to change the status quo by creating,
encouraging, and supporting a cultural shift that improves the linked domains
of responder, patient, and community safety.
A point reiterated by ACEP at the NEMSAC meeting was that their
intention was to make use of existing organizations to push this agenda and not
create another level of bureaucracy at any governmental level for
oversight. For those who wish to read
the full text (which I highly recommend as they go into great detail defining
each of the six pillars), you can go online and pull up the document at:
Another point of safety: We are now deep into the holiday season.
Please be ever vigilant with your safety as we experience severe weather conditions this season. Some folks are crazy enough to go out in it
despite the warnings of very knowledgeable experts. A favorite thought of mine certainly comes
into play; remember it’s not YOUR emergency you’ve been asked to respond to and
if you don’t make it there safely you’ve provided no help in their time of need
(in fact you may have made things worse).
So please be safe out there in everything you do for we ALL want you to
have a very merry holiday season.