It has been said that all politics are local. As such, advocacy starts at home, in your home town, city, or county. You don’t have to be anywhere near Washington, D.C., to be an advocate for EMS.
What is an advocate? An advocate is someone who supports or defends a particular cause. Advocacy presents itself in many forms. Many EMS practitioners advocate for better patient care, better working conditions or even higher pay. Being an advocate keeps you informed of the issues and helps you make a statement about a particular issue. Your advocacy efforts can make a difference for our profession and for those who will be following in our footsteps.
How can you become more involved in advocacy from your home? Stay informed on local issues by watching the news, reading the local papers, and following social media. Most importantly, attend community political functions to meet your local, state and federal leadership. Be proactive in building relationships; don’t wait for an emergency to get to know your representatives. Introduce yourself and explain your role within the community. Building professional relationships with other public safety agencies is also a very important component of community advocacy efforts. Attend other public safety agency meetings and interact with people in those communities.
Why is advocacy important? Once you build relationships with your local leaders, you can work to make sure they understand what it is you do and the EMS perspective on proposed policies and plans affecting our profession and the patients we serve. Advocacy for EMS is crucial. If we don't speak up for ourselves and our patients, no one will. It's up to us to drive the debate and inform our leaders about the issues that affect our profession. And our leaders want to hear from us so they better understand their constituents and our concerns.
Through advocacy, we help ensure that the EMS profession and our perspective are understood and that our elected officials fully comprehend our jobs and issues. Advocacy is the most vital and effective way to move our national EMS agenda forward. Your individual involvement with advocacy does make a difference.