A trip to ‘the Hill’

This article was first published in the Rushville Republican on July 9, 2019. 

The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) had its annual “Day on the Hill” on April 10. Two hundred and forty volunteer members from around the nation converged on Washington D.C. to meet with senators and congressional representatives. They lobbied for issues of concern to workers in the field of emergency medical services and community paramedicine.

Jason Scheiderer, Coordinator of Paramedicine and Transportation at Rush Memorial Hospital, is a third term volunteer NAEMT board member and representative for 14 states, including Indiana. As a member of the NAEMT Education, EMS 3.0, and Finance Committees, Jason is particularly well informed about issues of interest to the emergency medicine community. These include the shortage of drugs available to Emergency Management Services (EMS) personnel, the misuse of the 911 system by patients who are not experiencing an emergency and the high rate of on-the-job trauma experienced by EMS workers.

At their “Day on the Hill”, NAEMT volunteers tried to provide representatives with basic information about a career field that is often poorly understood. The mental health aspects of the job, in particular, are rarely publicized, in spite of efforts by organizations like the Code Green Campaign. The Code Green Campaign is a separate, non-NAEMT related advocacy and education organization that partners with NAEMT in the area of EMS related mental health issues. Both organizations want the public to recognize the high incidence of suicide and mental health issues among public safety workers, including those who serve in EMS.

According to a British study, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be even more severe among public safety workers than it is among veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. War veterans eventually return home, leaving the physical scene of their trauma behind. Public safety workers, on the other hand, may drive by the scene of a trauma over and over in their daily runs.

Participation in NAEMT has given Jason the ability to network with those who are at the top of the EMS field, giving him access to people who can help bring opportunities back to Rush County.