NAEMT to lead work on passage of Field EMS Bill
Members cite federal funding for EMS as an issue of highest priority
WASHINGTON — In an unanimous decision, the NAEMT Board of Directors recently voted for the association to take the lead in supporting passage of the Field EMS Quality, Innovation and Cost-Effectiveness Improvement Act, also known as the “Field EMS Bill.”
The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011 at the initiative of Advocates for EMS to provide a path toward the vision outlined by the 2006 Institute Of Medicine report, Emergency Medical Services: At the Crossroads. The report identified systemic problems that undermine the public trust and reliance upon EMS to protect them in their greatest hour of need.
The IOM report notes that, while fire and police first responders have several targeted federal support programs, there is no dedicated federal funding stream for field EMS responders to ensure their capability to respond to medical emergencies as part of a coordinated emergency care system. In many areas, EMS services are highly fragmented, poorly equipped and insufficiently prepared for day-to-day operations, let alone natural or man-made major disasters.
The Field EMS Bill addresses many of the challenges EMS systems face while trying to fulfill public expectations that all who need EMS can depend upon the highest quality of care and transport to the most appropriate clinical setting. The first bill to seriously look at EMS problems since the 1960s, the act would improve access to essential and life-saving EMS services and better integrate EMS within the larger health care system.
The NAEMT board recognizes that passage of this bill will require a multi-year sustained effort on which the association will need to focus substantial resources. However, all board members strongly believe that the provisions of the Field EMS Bill, particularly the grant programs for state EMS offices and EMS agencies, will help address the lack of federal funding for EMS that NAEMT members consistently cite as an issue of highest priority.
“The components of the Field EMS Bill are something that our members overwhelmingly asked for and that our Board supports,” says NAEMT President Don Lundy. “NAEMT feels strongly that this legislation will positively affect EMS systems at all delivery levels, in urban, rural to frontier communities, in obtaining the necessary and much-needed funding for education, equipment and infrastructure. We know of no better way to support our EMS practitioners across the nation than by going to Capitol Hill and advocating for this important legislation.”