OEMSCA advocates for pro-EMS policies on Capitol Hill

OEMSCA advocates for pro-EMS policies on Capitol Hill

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians immediate past president Dennis Rowe poses for a photo with OEMSCA leadership

Several Ohio EMS Chiefs Association members attended a legislative event in Arlington, VA this month, successfully advocating for policies that could positively affect third-service EMS agencies.

On April 10, a group of chiefs representing OEMSCA attended EMS on the Hill Day, as part of a larger group of more than 250 chiefs hosted by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

OEMSCA President Vince Gildone said the organization’s delegation visited the legislative offices of Representative Bob Gibbs, Representative David Joyce and Senator Rob Portman. Others from the larger NAEMT group visited Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul.

“I believe our efforts and the efforts of the other chiefs collectively were successful,” Gildone said. “It’s extremely important that our legislators understand when legislation does not spell out that it covers EMS, many of us are left out of the benefits of the legislation.”

Gildone said he believes legislators and their staffs were attentive and understanding of the needs of third-service EMS agencies.

“Ohio was well represented,” he said. “We were ready, willing and able to answer questions and enable our legislators to understand the importance of issues we were placing before them.”

Eric Burgess, Eric Burns and Todd Shroyer joined Gildone for the event.

Burns said his experience gave him insight into how much work it takes to get pro-EMS legislation approved.

“It amazed me how many still have no clue what EMS is and what we do,” he said. “I have become more and more aware that we, as chiefs, need to start being more proactive, not only on the local level of government, but on the national level.”

Burns said he hopes OEMSCA can take the lead and set up an ongoing dialog between state and federal legislators and EMS leaders. He said the state EMS board does a good job, but he said more can be done to ensure legislation that helps EMS professionals is approved.

“I think we need to get into our legislator’s offices and have one-on-one sit downs so that they understand where EMS and Ohio stand,” he said. “I will continue to strive and work diligently to help the national level EMS group fight for legislation to help EMS in Ohio and across the nation.”

Gildone said the group had five main goals advocating for legislation or changes to assist EMS agencies across the state and across the country.

The first on the list was seeking $30 million of funding for a bill that passed in December known as the siren law. The law supports and improves rural EMS, but when it was approved, it did not have funding attached.

The second priority was House Resolution 1309, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare and Social Service Workers Act.

“We requested that legislation address the epidemic of violence against healthcare and social service workers,” Gildone said.

The proposal would require OSHA to create a federal workplace violence prevention standard which mandates employers to develop comprehensive, workplace specific plans to prevent violence before it happens.

The next priority was House Resolution 1646, the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome, or Hero Act. The legislation, if approved, would provide resources to increase recognition and treatment of post-traumatic stress (PTS) for EMS practitioners and fire fighters, provide grants to establish and assist peer-to-peer support programs and collect data on EMS practitioner and firefighter suicides. 

Gildone said OEMSCA is asking that the bill be expanded to ensure that all 911 medical responders are covered under its provisions.

Another priority advocated for by delegates earlier this month was House Resolution 1241, the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act, known as VRIPA. This legislation would give financial incentive for retention and recruitment of much-needed volunteer workforces.

Lastly, Gildone said the group asked legislators to prioritizing solving the drug shortage problem.

Anyone interested in continuing to advocate for some of the important causes to third-service EMS agencies, can visit this legislative tool on the NAEMT website: http://www.naemt.org/advocacy/online-legislative-service#/.