Baker Bill to Revamp Emergency Medical Services Law Sent to Governor

Updates Decades-Old Law to Improve Patient Care and Public Safety

Legislation sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) to modernize, standardize and improve Pennsylvania’s Emergency Medical Services Law to ensure high levels of patient care and greater public safety received final legislative approval today and will be sent to the governor for signature.

Baker, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said Senate Bill 240 would replace the existing Emergency Medical Services Law with one that is more coordinated and responsive to the current EMS needs of the state.

“With nearly two million emergency calls placed per year, the need for service is escalating, as is the pressure for quality and dependability. We are grateful for the exceptional skill and commitment of the thousands who serve,” said Baker. “Unfortunately, their good work can be hindered by having to operate under an outdated state law. This effort to revamp the law is meant to help EMS workers do the very best they can.”

The senator noted that in the 1980s, most EMS organizations were adjuncts of local fire companies. But today, only about a third are volunteer. Changes in workforce, technology and service configurations have all made it necessary to revamp the existing law to reflect current practices and protocols.

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. The state law no longer reflects the fast-response, high-tech, crisis-centered world, Baker said.

“Time is the critical factor in emergency response. Anything that costs precious moments – confusion, conflict, antiquated procedures – increases peril. Proper preparation saves time and saves lives,” Baker said. “This new law will ensure that the standards are as up-to-date as the technology and the training.”

The legislation has been ten years in the making, incorporating numerous revisions to reflect input from providers and concerned organizations. Senate Bill 240 adopts national education standards, allows for new provider certification levels, and defines the role played by the state Department of Health and the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

“We cannot remove the elements of risk and misfortune from life. But to the greatest extent humanly possible, we can make sure that emergency response is quick, safe, and effective. This helps service providers, and it helps our citizens and communities,” the senator said.

Contact: Jennifer Wilson
(570) 675-3931


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