Measure Seeks to Ensure High Levels of Patient Care and Greater Public Safety
The state Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) that would modernize, standardize and improve Pennsylvania’s Emergency Medical Services Law to ensure high levels of patient care and greater public safety.
Baker, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee said the measure would replace the existing Emergency Medical Services Law with one that is more coordinated and responsive to the current EMS needs of the state.
Currently, the system is made up of 53,000 EMS providers operating 1,014 ambulance services. Those providers responded to more than 1.8 million patient encounters in 2008 – or a dispatch every 18 seconds.
“Over the past 25 years, emergency response has evolved rapidly, but there is a problem,” Baker said. “The EMS provisions in state law no longer reflect what is happening in communities across the Commonwealth. In this fast-response, high-tech, crisis-centered world, Pennsylvania is stuck with an outdated law.”
Baker explained that in the 1980s, most EMS organizations were adjuncts of local fire companies. But today, only about a third are volunteer. She said changes in workforce, technology and service configurations have all made it necessary to revamp the existing law to reflect current practices and protocols.
Baker added that this legislation has been ten years in the making, and incorporated countless revisions to reflect considerable input from providers and concerned organizations. She said it adopts national education standards and allows for new provider certification levels to ensure a high level of patient care and public safety. It also establishes clear regulatory authority for the Department of Health and the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.
“The revamped law prevents confusion, promotes cooperation, provides certainty in standards, and helps those in the business of saving lives do their work efficiently and effectively,” Baker said. “The nearly 3,500 entities that are part of the EMS system play an indispensable role in our communities. We owe them our respect and gratitude. We also owe them a law that allows them to operate in the best fashion possible.”
Contact: Jennifer Wilson