New Orleans EMS Unveils BLM Pin, Appoints Diversity and Equity Advocates

The New Orleans EMS created a Black Lives Matter pin for Black History Month.

To celebrate Black History Month, and in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, the New Orleans Emergency Medical Service (EMS) has created a pin to show support to the New Orleans Black community.

“New Orleans EMS stays committed to providing the highest quality emergency medical care to the underserved and marginalized communities and all residents and visitors, every day. All lives can’t matter until black lives do,” said a press release announcing the pin.

In the past, NOLA EMS has created pins in support of the LGBTQ community, and have noticed that it can make patients from the LGBTQ+ community feel more comfortable calling for help. “Last year, New Orleans EMS rolled out our Pride pins and badges as a way for our providers to show support for the LGBTQ community. Employees may choose to wear New Orleans EMS Pride pins on their uniform year-round to show our LGBTQ patients that we are allies,” said Dr. Meg Marino, Deputy Director of New Orleans EMS. “Some People of Color in our community are also reluctant to call for help from EMS because they are afraid. This year we created the New Orleans EMS Black Lives Matter pins to show support to our patients who are People of Color in hopes of showing that we are allies.”

This year, New Orleans EMS appointed its first diversity and equity advocates (DEAs). These six paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are dedicated to improving equity and confronting bias. They meet weekly with New Orleans EMS Director Emily Nichols, MD.

“Emergency medical technicians are at the front of the front lines, witnessing societal inequity and care for those who are greatest impacted,” Nichols said. “Racial inequity was already known and well outlined by the New Orleans Health Department, but it has become especially evident during the peak of COVID-19. COVID has impacted all of our residents, but the disproportionate incidence of disease in the Black and Latinx community is highly a product of years of social and economic disparity.”

The US Department of Transportation’s Office of EMS has outlined socially equitable care as part of its national EMS Agenda 2050. To that end, New Orleans EMS, with the help of its DEAs is seeking to challenge the implicit biases that can happen in emergency situations.

“EMS providers may have limited or no information about a patient and must make split-second decisions in emergency situations. Implicit biases involving cultural stereotypes may cause providers to unknowingly perpetuate healthcare disparities,” said Dr. Mag Marino, Deputy Director of New Orleans EMS. “New Orleans EMS serves a diverse population that is 58% Black and 5% LGBTQ, but our EMS provides are, like the rest of the country, less diverse. We set out to make some changes to better bridge the culture gap and improve the care our patients receive.”

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