Rep. Wild Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Correctly Count EMS Personnel, Better Meet Community Health and Safety Needs
Yesterday, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (D-PA) was joined by Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA) in introducing H.R.8592, the EMS Counts Act of 2020, bipartisan legislation that would address the chronic miscounting of first responders, particularly firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. This legislation will ensure that the federal government is collecting accurate, comprehensive data on the quantity, location, and training of first responders throughout the United States, which is essential to ensuring that communities are able to quickly respond to emergencies, including outbreaks of diseases and natural disasters.
"Our first responders play an absolutely critical role in keeping our communities safe," Wild said. "Throughout this pandemic, we have seen this diverse group of health care practitioners step up to serve our communities in inspiring and selfless ways, and making sure we have an accurate count of these first responders will help us meet the health and safety needs of our communities through this crisis and in future emergencies. I'm proud of this common-sense, bipartisan legislation that will help ensure our community is prepared for emergencies."
"Whether fire fighters, paramedics, or other first responders, EMS personnel work collectively and often perform multiple duties to keep our communities safe," Keller said. "Without accurate data that recognizes EMS personnel who perform dual roles, many departments miss out on vital grant funding and other investments. I am proud to support this important bill to correct this problem and ensure accurate occupational data is collected for our first responders."
EMS consists of a diverse group of first responders and health care practitioners, including Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and dual-role Firefighter/EMTs and Firefighter/Paramedics. These professionals respond to nearly 28.5 million 9-1-1 calls each year. The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics (BLS) collects data on and releases a monthly jobs report, which includes job creation and loss information. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor's current occupational classification system does not accurately classify firefighters whose primary job is being a paramedic or EMT. Not recognizing their cross-training leads to a significant and chronic undercount of EMS personnel in the U.S. Without correct data on the number of EMTs and Paramedics practicing throughout the U.S., it is difficult to track gaps in emergency services and meet the emergency health care needs of communities, including planning for daily needs and major disasters.
The EMS Counts Act of 2020 would require the Secretary of Labor to revise the Standard Occupational Classification System by dividing the general occupational category of Firefighter into four sub-categories to allow firefighters to identify themselves as cross-trained EMS providers to better ensure an accurate count of trained EMS professionals throughout our communities.
"The IAFC thanks Rep. Wild for introducing the EMS Counts Act. This bill recognizes the crucial role of firefighters in providing EMS care by requiring the Bureau of Labor Statistics to include dual-role firefighters/EMS personnel in their count of EMS personnel," said Chief Richard Carrizzo, International Association of Fire Chiefs President and Chairman of the Board. "Obtaining an accurate count of EMS providers is key to developing sound federal programs that provide for the health and safety of communities. The IAFC urges Congress to support the EMS Counts Act and recognize the intrinsic connection between EMS and firefighters."
"NAEMT applauds Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) and Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA) for their leadership in introducing the EMS Counts Act of 2020," said Matt Zavadsky President of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. The bill will require the Secretary of Labor to revise the Standard Occupational Classification System to more accurately count the number of Paramedics and EMTs in the United States. This legislation will improve the ability of our states and communities to effectively utilize their EMS workforce to care for the sick and injured and respond to major disasters and public health crises. We look forward to working with Rep. Wild and Rep. Keller on this foundational bill to better capture the number of Paramedics and EMTs in our country."
The EMS Counts Act of 2020 is endorsed by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), American Ambulance Association (AAA), National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO), National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP), National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE), International Academy of Emergency Dispatch, National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA), National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), and Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS).