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 About GEMS: History of GEMS

Jones and Bartlett Publishers (J&B), with the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), and the National Council of State Emergency Medical Services Training Coordinators (NCSEMSTC) partnered to develop a program that will train prehospital professionals (first responders, EMTs, and paramedics) to deliver state-of-the-art care to older adults.

Together, J&B, the AGS, and NCSEMSTC published a new national continuing education curriculum to help prehospital professionals to better assess and manage ill, injured, or disabled older patients. The course, Geriatric Education for Emergency Medical Services (GEMS), was developed by a collaborative GEMS Steering Committee.

The AGS and NCSEMSTC created a coalition of 13 national organizations concerned with emergency medical services for older patients. These organizations appointed geriatric emergency medicine and prehospital education experts to form the National GEMS Steering Committee.

The organizations with official representatives include the:

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American College of Emergency Physicians
  • American Geriatrics Society
  • Emergency Nurses Association
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs
  • International Association of Fire Fighters
  • National Association of Emergency Medical Services Educators
  • National Association of Emergency Medical Services Physicians
  • National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
  • National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Directors
  • National Association of State Units on Aging
  • National Council of State Emergency Medical Service Training Coordinators
  • Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

"GEMS will have a profound impact on the care of older people in the prehospital setting. The GEMS course was developed through a consensus of experts in emergency medical services and geriatric medicine," offered David Snyder, co-chair (with Colleen Christmas, MD of Johns Hopkins University) of the GEMS Steering Committee. "The first of its kind, the course has many interesting features and will be especially learner-friendly, and will be on the cutting edge of clinical practice in geriatric emergency medical services."

The proportion of the aged in society today is greater than ever before. Current indications are that approximately 34% of calls for emergency medical services or 3.4 million emergency responses involve patients over the age of 60. This population has specific medical needs that must be met and the GEMS course is designed to address all of those special needs. To ensure quality prehospital care of our older adults, prehospital providers must acquire the additional knowledge, skills, and attitudes that comprise the basic concepts of geriatric medicine, as well as the ability to care for older adults in an empathetic manner. The GEMS course content also addresses the geriatric objectives as identified in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National Standard Curricula.

"This initiative is in keeping with the AGS's longstanding commitment to improving geriatric care in distinct, meaningful ways," said Kenneth Brummel-Smith, MD, AGSF, President of the American Geriatrics Society. "The new curriculum helps ensure that older adults receive the specialized treatment they require from prehospital professionals in the critical moments when geriatric skills are needed most."

Launched in January 2003, the GEMS course was designed as a fully integrated training program consisting of a text, Tool Kit CD-ROM, Resource Manual, Slide Set, Video, and Course Completion Cards. A one-day BLS course (geared toward EMT-Bs and first responders), and a one and one-half day ALS course (geared toward EMT-Is and Paramedics) is available. The text includes 15 chapters addressing a broad range of topics specifically geared toward EMS providers. The course is highly interactive with hands-on skill stations, small group scenarios, and case-based lectures.

"Jones and Bartlett Publishers is very excited to be a part of developing this important new geriatric training program with the AGS and NCSEMSTC," said Clayton Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Jones and Bartlett Publishers. "This partnership reinforces our commitment to publishing superior programs for prehospital professionals."

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