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Changing EMS Leadership Sends a Powerful Public Message

Changing EMS Leadership Sends a Powerful Public Message


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Political scandals have a seriously detrimental effect on the public opinion of a federal agency. It's often politically embarrassing when an agency at the local, state or federal level of government makes serious mistakes that the general public deems to be unacceptable.

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When the scandal is severe enough, the political answer is often to change the leadership. For example, a recent article published by Emergency Management highlights that Hurricane Irma was mismanaged, and one of the results was to remove the emergency manager.

The article also included a number of things having to do with preparedness, which will likely tighten emergency management efforts in the future. This came from incidents that were documented in the Hurricane Irma after-action reports.

Changing people in leadership positions is the usual answer to fix a public relations problem. But does it really help the situation? Does correction occur to the mismanagement of the organization or the event that took place?

Administrative Changes Are Politically Charged

When a scandal happens and it's serious enough, the general public may call for an individual to resign. Those who are in elected positions will often ask for that person’s resignation, too.

Scandals such as these include:

At the core of these incidents stem administrative failures that exposes a serious problem in federal agency management. This problem, however, is not isolated to federal agencies, but is seen at all levels of government and the private sector.

In a Journey of Policy Analysis and Management article, J. Patrick Dobel argues that resignation is a “critical ethical decision for individuals.” At the core of this argument, however, it is clear that if elected officials do nothing in the wake of a political scandal, they send the general public the message that they don’t care.

Merely Moving in New Leaders Won’t Always Fix Administrative Problems

Leaders undoubtedly have an impact on the overall organization and the enforcement of policies.  But administrative changes need to be accompanied by other alterations in the organization for positive policy changes and initiatives to truly take place. Just acquiring new leadership won’t be enough to make the appropriate changes needed.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.