NAEMT: Governments have failed to provide funding, protection for EMS
The association issued a statement expressing that EMS agencies have yet to receive needed relief during the COVID-19 national health emergency
By Laura French
CLINTON, Miss. — The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) issued a statement Thursday that said EMS agencies across the United States are in need of critical support, and that federal and state governments have failed to provide necessary funding and resources to assist during the COVID-19 national health emergency.
The statement came shortly after the U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill on Wednesday that, in addition to providing relief to citizens and businesses, included some funding opportunities for healthcare providers, including EMS, and improvements to Medicare reimbursements.
However, the NAEMT stated, “Funds to support the pandemic response are being provided to state government and/or hospitals. EMS agencies are not receiving funds or supplies for their EMS personnel. In some communities, EMS is on the brink of collapse.”
The association mentioned that both EMS systems in the public and private sector are struggling, and that lack of medical supplies, especially PPE, is endangering EMS providers, their families and their patients. The statement also pointed out that several states have yet to enact priority COVID-19 testing for first responders, and that the rising number of providers falling ill has led to staffing shortages that further hamper response.
“The EMS community commends and appreciates the efforts of Congress and the Administration to support states as they respond to the pandemic. However, our profession is deeply disappointed and concerned with the lack of recognition by federal and state leaders of the care provided by EMTs and paramedics, the role of EMS in the pandemic response, and the absence of financial support to EMS through any of the bills that have been passed by Congress to date,” NAEMT President Matt Zavadksy said. “We call on our federal leaders in Congress and in the White House to address this oversight as soon as possible. EMS is at a breaking point and we need government support.”
The statement concluded by listing ways that communities can support their local EMS agencies, including by donation of PPE, cleaning supplies and food, staying home and following CDC guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19, and contacting state and federal leaders to urge more support for EMS during the crisis.