Public Awareness

Maybe your service relies on its community for direct financial support. Maybe it's tax funded and subject to the whims of the voters. Either way, it needs a public that understands and supports what its EMS system does.

There are lots of ways for individual providers to go about raising citizens' awareness and galvanizing their support. Some involve direct outreach and interaction. Others entail programs and efforts within organizations. The first and most obvious is to consistently deliver high-quality medical care, with compassion and professionalism, on every call. Beyond that, here are some additional steps to help providers and their organizations develop public trust and support.

Value education, internally and externally
Seek knowledge. Beyond mandatory continuing ed, providers can seek additional certifications that broaden their expertise. Systems can offer incentives and rewards for those who complete courses or improve themselves in other ways. As an individual, demonstrate your desire to be the best you can be. Organizations want the best-trained, most capable possible workforce on their communities' streets, and citizens appreciate knowing you're prepared for whatever befalls them.

Outside your organization, seek opportunities to spread healthcare and injury-prevention information. Get active in teaching lifesaving skills like CPR. Spearhead a PAD program. Speak to local civic groups or at school or business safety days. Contribute columns to local publications. Become a go-to safety resource for your community. There are lots of ways to reach people and positively influence their lives.

Across the board, participate
Don't just appear at council meetings when you want something, but show up regularly to provide your informed perspective on all health and safety matters. Show your constituents and their leaders that you're not just there for their emergencies, but also work for their overall health and welfare. Your opinion has weight, and you'll benefit from being seen as a fighter for the public good.

At the system level, try organizing regular events where you can meet the public and answer questions. Holding an open house is a great way to personalize your organization and generate good will. A survivor reunion, where you gather cardiac or other patients your system has saved, is a feel-good, media-friendly way to demonstrate how important your work is.

Finally, always conduct yourself in a first-class way. Be well-groomed, professional and polite. Most of all, be nice. Every call is an emergency to someone. You see hundreds of patients, but your patient may only call EMS once in their life. They will remember your words, tone and demeanor. You will also attract attention and public interaction when not answering calls. Represent yourself as you want your service to be seen.