The importance of credentialed leaders

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By Jay Fitch, PhD; and Skip Kirkwood, JD

EMS and fire leaders have historically been promoted from the field. Some had formal education while others simply graduated from the school of hard knocks. In recent years, it is more common to see bachelor and master’s degree requirements for director level positions. Additionally, industry-specific professional development programs and certifications have been used as another measure of baseline competencies.

The National Fire Academy has a variety of programs including its Managing Officer Program and the Executive Fire Officer Program for emerging fire service leaders. The EFO program is well-established in the fire service as a pre-requisite credential for career fire chief positions. The American Ambulance Association and Fitch and Associates were early developers of leadership development programs for private, non-profit and public sector services through the Ambulance Service Manager’s program and Beyond the Streets seminars which have been developing EMS leaders for over a quarter-century.

As the unique competencies required for leading an EMS organization became apparent, the National Emergency Medical Services Management Association (NEMSMA) began working to determine how to best fulfill that need more than a decade ago.

The Paramedic Officer Credentialing program represents the culmination of years …

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