How to Advocate

What is an advocate? An advocate is someone who supports or defends a particular cause. Successful advocacy depends on a network of committed individuals who educate themselves on the issues and contact their elected government officials.

Advocating for EMS is essential to ensuring that our elected government officials and their staff understand the key issues that impact the ability of EMS agencies to effectively provide emergency care to their communities. Through advocacy, we help ensure that the EMS perspective is understood and incorporated into the policies, plans and programs of our government and its agencies. We voice our concerns when actions are being considered that would have an adverse effect on EMS practitioners and their patients. And, we promote EMS professionalism and our image within the EMS and medical communities.

Of course, the one factor that determines the effectiveness of our advocacy efforts is you – the EMS professional. Elected officials listen to the citizens who put them in office. For a good introduction to EMS advocacy, read NAEMT's Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

Although meeting with your congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. is a direct and effective way to advocate for our profession, there are many opportunities outside of our Capitol for you to advocate on behalf of EMS

Get to know your elected leaders at the local, state and national levels. It’s easy to find information about your elected leaders simply by looking for them on most commonly used search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing or MSN.

Schedule meetings with your elected leaders. At the national level, visit your Senators and House Representative in their District Offices when they are at home. Try to schedule meetings around holidays, such as Easter, Independence Day, August recess, or Election recesses. Congressional leaders are more often at home on Friday through Monday, as votes are most often taken in Washington D.C. on Tuesday-Thursday. Build relationships with congressional staff who work in your district office.

Attend town hall meetings. Participation in these meetings not only allows you an opportunity to share your concerns with your elected leaders, it gives the members of your community an opportunity to also learn about the issues that are impacting EMS .

Send letters and make phone calls. Letters, emails and phone calls do have an impact. Make sure when communicating with your congressional leaders that you clearly indicate your name, position that you hold in and the agency at which you work.

Promote your EMS agency in your local paper. Your elected leaders read the local newspapers FIRST, then national news. So, work with your local newspaper to generate positive placements - stories about how local EMS practitioners save lives, challenges, successes.

Engage State and Local Elected Officials ("Grass-Tops")

  • LOCAL: Mayors, County Executives, and Council Members have the ear of Federal legislators
  • STATE: State Legislators, Officials and Governors control how Federal money gets spent in States
  • 2 pronged benefit from investment of your time/energy
  • They are credible advocates
  • They often later get elected to Congress

Make it easy for your “Grass Tops” to help you by

  • Educating them on key messages/issues BEFORE you need them to execute communications
  • Providing simple talking points (elevator speech)
  • Following up with staff to close the loop
Join your state association. Many state associations already have legislative programs in place in which you can become involved. Click here for a listing of state EMS associations.