E.V.E.N.T. or the EMS Voluntary Event Notification Tool is a reporting web site launched in 2012. Backed by a long list of prestigious supporters, EVENT was designed to accept anonymous reports of EMS safety concerns in an effort to improve safety across the EMS spectrum. The concept was similar to an airline safety system that accepted "near miss" reports from pilots known as the ASRS or Aviation Safety Reporting System, sponsored by the FAA but operated by NASA (an independent third party).
Now, I'm not a statistician, but I have slept in a Holiday Inn Express and I can tell you that there are far more ambulance calls per day in the US than there are airline flights. Yet, since their inceptions, the ASRS has continually grown in number of reports, and significantly so while the EVENT system has declined every year. In fact, the handful of reports submitted to EVENT seem to come from only one or two states and may well be the work of only one or two people!
That said, comparing a few dozen EVENT reports per year to over 300 ASRS reports per day is shameful. There is no way that EVENT can draw any meaningful conclusions, see patterns, or even begin to claim that they are sampling EMS with these limited data. Essentially, for the investment, we got nothing. It's a nice idea that went nowhere.
Meanwhile, the aviation industry is reaping amazing rewards from their ASRS program. All segments of the airline industry participate and the overall design of the system encourages reporting, objectively analyzes the events and spits out valuable safety information that affects aviation practices.
Is it time to pull the plug on the EMS version of a very successful aviation system? I'd say so. For all we've invested, we've got nothing and we're getting less with every passing year. There's a reason the ASRS program is successful and whatever that reason is seems lost on EVENT. The supporters of EVENT are big organizations that have apparently been unable to rally their constituents to participate. Unless we want to believe that violence against EMS providers rarely happens and that Minnesota is the only state where you might not be safe in the back of an ambulance, then it's time for a critical review of what EVENT has actually accomplished and where it's future lies.
Mike McEvoy - EMS Editor - Fire Engineering magazine, PennWell Fire Publications Group