AMR launches campaign in opposition of EMS Workers Bill of Rights

The "Lives Before Lunch" campaign's purpose is to highlight the dangers of the bill and urge legislators to vote "no"

This article is a press release from American Medical Response. It does not reflect the opinions of or its staff.

American Medical Response

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Today, American Medical Response (AMR), California’s largest provider of 911 emergency ambulance services, launched an online media campaign in opposition to AB 263, authored by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez. AB 263 places patient care at risk by seeking to restrict or eliminate private EMS providers from operating in the state.

The standard practice of EMS is that the closest ambulance to an emergency responds because patient care takes precedent to rest and meal breaks. AB 263 will prohibit that standard.

The online media campaign ‘Lives Before Lunch’ highlights the onerous limitations AB 263 puts into place. Its purpose is to educate members of the public to the dangers of the bill, and urge them to contact their legislators to vote “NO” when it comes before them.

As written, AB 263 is an unprecedented political power grab, and will heavily penalize private – but not public – employers of EMTs and paramedics for break interruptions during responses to disasters, and prevent or delay responses to medical emergencies. What’s more, it requires private emergency responders to release their employees from patient care duties even if it places patient care at risk, and allows private EMTs and paramedics to walk away from their ambulances and station houses while on duty.

Putting that into perspective, private EMS providers were the primary paramedic ambulance service that responded to the San Bernardino shootings, the Asiana plane crash and the Oroville Dam evacuation. AB 263 will impact future responses to major events like these and potentially shutdown EMS systems in some of California’s poorest counties.

The reality is that only 6 percent of AMR’s workforce misses a meal period during their shift. Under current law, when a meal period is missed employees not only receive their paid lunch break compensation but also an additional hour of pay for not having their lunch break rescheduled.

Employees that have rest breaks that are interrupted and not rescheduled are also issued an hour of additional compensation, but this impacts less than 1 percent of the workforce because 40 percent to 60 percent of our crews’ shift time can be spent inactive, not providing patient care or responding to an emergency.

Jason Sorrick, Director of Communications and Government Relations - American Medical Response, concluded, “AB 263 defies common sense. The bill essentially says that it is more important for an EMT or paramedic not to have their lunch interrupted than it is to respond to a medical emergency or disaster. However, public safety and responding to emergencies just doesn’t work that way. AMR plans to continue our public and legislative campaign in various venues to highlight the dangerous consequences of AB 263.”

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