– With local emergency medical services organizations struggling to attract and retain certified emergency medical technicians (EMTs), emergency medical responders (EMRs) and paramedics, the state House Health Committee today in Harrisburg approved a bill introduced by local state Rep. Brad Roae (R-Crawford/Erie) aimed at reversing the trend.
“My bill is about enhancing public health and safety in our communities,” Roae said. “Local families rely on EMTs, EMRs and paramedics to be there during an emergency. The presence or absence of these trained professionals can mean the difference between life and death.”
EMTs, EMRs and paramedics used to take a state-developed exam in order to be licensed by the Commonwealth. The state exam was eliminated in 2013 and applicants for these positions have had to take a national exam.
Laws governing what EMTs, EMRs and paramedics can do vary by state. EMTs in other states, for example, are permitted to start an intravenous (IV) line in a patient, while Pennsylvania EMTs are not. Pennsylvania EMTs traditionally have not learned this skill and may suffer on the national exam if they are asked about it. This has led some qualified Pennsylvania EMTs, EMRs and paramedics to fail the national exam and has reduced the number of skilled first responders available in the Commonwealth.
“We’re seeing fewer EMTs and paramedics, and local organizations can’t find new ones fast enough to replace the ones they’re losing,” Roae said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to test these people and potentially fail them based on skills they aren’t allowed to perform in Pennsylvania.”
Roae’s legislation – House Bill 2579
– would require the Pennsylvania Department of Health to develop and offer a state exam for EMTs, EMRs and paramedics. This would ensure Pennsylvania EMTs, EMRs and paramedics are tested on material that is specifically relevant to their service in the Commonwealth.
“My bill would increase the number of emergency medical services professionals in Pennsylvania by testing them only on the skills they are able to perform in the Commonwealth,” Roae said. “If a local organization wants to continue requiring the national exam, they would be allowed to do that. My bill gives local organizations the option of using the state exam.”
Roae’s House Bill 2579 now heads to the full House for consideration.
More information about Roae is available by visiting his website at RepRoae.com
and following him on Facebook at Facebook.com/RepRoae