EMS should all be united under a single professional standard
It shouldn't matter whether the person is a volunteer, career, hospital-based, fire-based or third-party service
By Art Hsieh
Editor's note: The N.J. Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee has passed a bill that would put all EMS under one professional standard in the control of the state's health commissioner.
Last I checked, most states have a uniform approach in certifying and/or licensing its EMS providers. "Uniform" is a key term:
Uniform n. 1. having always the same form, manner, or degree : not varying or variable
2. consistent in conduct or opinion
3. of the same form with others : conforming to one rule or mode (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
It would seem fairly straightforward to create a uniform set of standards for training, accountability and comportment so that citizens and communities could feel confident that the proficiency of care and the moral character of their EMS providers are consistent from one end of the state to another.
It shouldn't matter whether the person is a volunteer, career, hospital-based, fire-based or third-party service — a state-level agency has identified the individual as being capable of rendering emergency care.
I guess some folks in New Jersey don't feel the same way.
Prior columns have spoken to the ways the state's EMS provider leadership wants to preserve its existing EMS system by tying in the cost of background checks with the imminent loss of volunteers. If the system is functioning well, there shouldn't be a worry, right? After all, no one should be upset with a well-run, effective and efficient EMS response, or at least that's how the theory goes.
By my calculations the state's volunteers must be saving the state at least 160 million dollars annually by donating their services. That should be plenty of incentive for the state to provide about a million dollars to fingerprint its EMS providers.
But I am getting off track. Uniform standards for healthcare and public safety providers are a good thing. Whether it's done by a governmental or peer board process is not as critical. Let's not make the issue any bigger than it is.