The Joint Committee for Rural Emergency Care (JCREC) is comprised of four organizations:  the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO), the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) and the National Rural Health Resource Center (NRHRC). Collectively, JCREC works to provide the more than 60 million Americans who live in rural areas with better emergency services.

“We are committed to fostering development of state level leadership to support delivery of rural emergency care and facilitate coordination that improves care to patients in rural areas,” said JCREC chair Dr. Don Wood, director of the Utah State Office of Rural Health.

“In the world of health care, EMS was the last bastion that anyone paid attention to. They never collected the data that proved what they do really makes a difference. Now that good data and enhanced system evaluation are happening in EMS, the next logical step is performance improvement initiatives. JCREC is definitely a proponent and an advocate for EMS performance improvement initiatives and NOSORH again looks at this with a sharp eye to the rural areas where resources have been lacking in the past,” Wood said.

Every year the JCREC creates a work plan that focuses on specific areas of rural emergency services. Part of this year’s work plan is to provide education regarding Community Paramedicine, which is already being implemented in some parts of the country. According to the New York Mobile Integrated Healthcare Association, Community Paramedicine is an umbrella term for the various expanded roles that EMS workers can perform in our underserved rural areas. Community Paramedicine  may work differently based on available resources and geographical location, but the goal is the same: to use existing underutilized resources to fill in the gaps and improve health care delivery. For example, EMS workers would make house calls to patients who had been hospitalized with diabetes to check their blood sugar levels and make sure they were using their insulin correctly. The goal would be to stop patients from being readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of their release.  JCREC will host an informal learning community, June 24th 2 pm EDT to discuss the role of Community Paramedicine in the future.

Looking ahead, Wood said JREC is also “facilitating discussion to see if it would be prudent to address standardized EMS training in the future. All of the questions aren’t answered yet, but we are adding to the conversation.”

Wood invites other SORHs to join in the conversation by participating in JCREC. “Anyone with issues, solutions, experience, best practices, input, or anything of value to the conversations and discussions concerning Rural EMS are encouraged to participate in JCREC.” The JCREC meets the second Monday of most months at 2 pm EDT.  For more information about the committee please contact Don  Wood or Paige Law.

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