EMS Personnel Licensure Compact approaches go-live date

The interstate system is set to go live in June with 18 member states


By Dan Manz, National Educator, Interstate Commission for EMS Personnel Practice

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — On May 8, 2017, as Georgia‘s governor signed their EMS Compact legislation as the 10th state to join, the EMS Compact was officially established and our nation’s EMS system took a giant leap forward.

Currently, there are 18 member states and several more are considering legislation to join this year. The EMS Compact holds many benefits to member states and EMS personnel who need to cross borders in the course of their daily duties. The end goal is to have all 50 states join the EMS Compact and make cross-border EMS practice seamless, easy and accountable.

The EMS Compact will be fully implemented on July 1, 2020. Currently, 18 states have passed legislation to become EMS Compact members. (Photo/Interstate Commission for EMS Personnel Practice)
The EMS Compact will be fully implemented on July 1, 2020. Currently, 18 states have passed legislation to become EMS Compact members. (Photo/Interstate Commission for EMS Personnel Practice)

Putting this simply, EMS personnel will be able to use their home state EMS license in a manner similar to their driver’s license. Your driver’s license allows you to cross a state border and drive in other states without stopping at the border to get a new license for each state you drive through. If you commit a driving violation in a state other than where you hold your driver’s license, your home state agrees to cooperate in enforcing any penalty from the remote state. If you move to a new state, you need to get a new license.

In the case of the EMS Compact, while a remote state cannot remove a person’s EMS license issued by their home state, they can remove the privilege to practice in that remote state. Under the terms of the EMS Compact, the EMS provider would also lose their privilege to practice in all member states if the privilege is lost in any state.

The regulation of healthcare is intended to ensure safety and quality for patients, and a key part of this regulation is ensuring that those who provide care are trained, competent and reliable. Providing for the safety of the public is particularly important for EMS. When you select a new primary care physician, you can fairly easily discover where your candidates went to medical school, how long they have been in practice, if they have any prior malpractice history, ratings of patient satisfaction and similar measures. You generally have time to shop around to find a physician who meets your needs.

But when you dial 911 in the middle of the night for a life-threatening medical emergency, you have no ability to ensure that the people coming to help are competent, qualified and have no concerning backgrounds. State EMS personnel licensing is intended to ensure those things in a specific state but how can one state be certain the EMS personnel who might cross a border from another state meet those same qualifications?

The EMS Compact is a common body of legislation adopted by its member states. In the language of the law, states agree to several things:

  1. Use of the National Registry of EMTs certification as the basis for testing and licensure of personnel entering the state’s EMS system
  2. Fingerprint-based criminal background checks of all personnel entering the system by May of 2022
  3. Sharing of disciplinary information about personnel licensed in the state through a coordinated database accessible by all other Compact member states
  4. Designation of a representative to the EMS Compact Commission to help adopt rules and oversee the operations of the Compact
  5. Giving priority to the processing of EMS license applications by qualified retiring military personnel and their spouses

The EMS Compact only applies to EMS personnel when they are functioning on behalf of an organization licensed or approved for operations in the remote state. Operations for EMS personnel crossing a state border will be simple and temporary. There is no application and no fee. No pre-approval is required. You won’ t have to notify the remote state. When you cross into another member state on an EMS assignment, you have an immediate privilege to practice. 

For the EMS Compact to become fully operational by July 1, 2020, a few things need to happen. Member states need to work with their personnel licensing system vendor (or in-house support staff) to ensure the state system can exchange data into and out of the coordinated database. This is specialized technical work and detailed requirements can be obtained by contacting Donnie Woodyard at the National Registry of EMTs. Once the necessary connections are made, states will need to transfer their personnel data into the system and ensure they can receive data from the other member states.

If your state is not yet a member of the EMS Compact, now is the time! Your state needs to meet the requirements for membership and your legislature needs to pass the same legislative language that has been adopted by all other member states. For more information on getting going with legislation, contact Dan Manz, EMS Compact Educator at dmanz@emscompact.gov  

Keep your eye on the EMS Compact website at www.emscompact.gov for more information as we approach the go-live date!

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