W.Va. officials issue, rescind order for unlicensed FDs to cease BLS services

Fire officials said departments had been permitted to render basic life support treatment through affiliate agreements for years

By Laura French

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State EMS officials in West Virginia issued, and then rescinded, an order for all fire departments that were not independently licensed by the state to immediately halt basic life support services. 

The West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services (WVOEMS) sent out the memo on Friday saying that fire departments not licensed by the office were not permitted to render BLS services and "Doing so is considered practicing medicine outside of your scope of practice," according to WSAZ

Chief Deron Wilkes of Hurricane Fire & Rescue told WSAZ that fire departments in the state had been allowed to have EMTs render BLS treatments for at least 25 years through affiliate agreements with transporting EMS agencies. Wilkes said the state's most recent Licensure Manual permitted this practice and claimed WVOEMS removed the manual the same day the memo was issued. He also stated that the sudden halt in BLS services from fire departments could put lives at risk. 

WVOEMS rescinded its order on Saturday, issuing a new memo stating that the office "will work in an expedited manner with these agencies to assist them in reviewing any required licensure requirements in order to continue to keep our communities safe and healthy," according to WSAZ. 

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