Senator Baker Addresses Emergency Medical Services Personnel During Emergency Medical Services Recognition Week

As chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I am honored to join Department of Health Deputy Secretary Michael Huff and Joseph Schmider, who directs the Bureau of Emergency Management Services, in recognizing your work and celebrating EMS Recognition Week in Pennsylvania.

It is appropriate that this year’s theme is, “Your Life is Our Mission.” In Pennsylvania, more than 54,000 EMS workers, just like you, respond to nearly 1.8 million emergency calls annually.

I congratulate the 2007 State EMS Award winners who were recognized earlier today by the Department of Health and the PA Emergency Health Services Council.

Each and every day we benefit from your commitment, dedication and devotion to saving lives. You offer this care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, performing extraordinary public service under stressful and sometimes dangerous conditions.

It has been said that “Appreciation is like an insurance policy. Every once in a while, it needs to be renewed.”

Today, we take the time to renew our insurance policy with you, and say thank you for your service and for making a difference in the lives of others. Your selfless acts improve our quality of life and touch us in many ways.

You may not always know or realize the true impact you have on a family. My own father’s life was saved in 1984 by volunteers from the Dallas Ambulance Association who answered a call to our home. Those volunteers who saved his life gave my dad a chance to live 12 more years and to be part of my wedding and witness the birth of my son and his only grandson.

That’s the kind of appreciation that stays with a family forever – and it’s what you do every day.

While it is important to say thank you, as legislators and policy makers, it is even more critical for us to demonstrate our appreciation in a tangible way.

Today I am pleased to be with you to announce the introduction of SB 1420 – the Emergency Medical Services System Act.

The existing EMS Systems law has not been revised since 1985. But advancements in medicine and technology over the last 20 years have been tremendous. Current regulations do not match today’s service delivery needs. This legislation will bring our EMS delivery system into the 21st century and improve the delivery of emergency medical services in our Commonwealth.

By reducing duplication of service and improving oversight of EMS personnel and resources, we can give you the tools you need to continue to do your jobs and save lives. Together, we can create a more coordinated system that can adapt to meet the changing emergency medical needs of our citizens and continue to provide the high-quality of care they expect and deserve.

The call to redraft Act 45 was initiated ten years by the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council and was renewed in the SR 60 report in 2004. Since that time, the Department of Health has held more than fifty-five town meetings and prepared numerous redrafts of the bill to incorporate constituent input. They are to be commended on the thoroughness of their due diligence and constituent outreach.

This tremendous level of outreach and coalition building over the past seven years has led to support from the major health care, emergency medical service providers associations, and emergency responder associations. This support will be central to the effective implementation of the legislation after passage by the General Assembly.

I look forward to working with you to improve the quality of care in Pennsylvania’s emergency medical services community. We clearly understand that Your Mission affects Our Lives and the well-being of our communities.

Herman Melville once wrote about public service: We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.

Thank you for all that you do and all that you give promise of doing in the years ahead.

 Contact: Brian Grove
bgrove@pasen.gov
(570) 675-3931