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From the July 2009 Issue | Monday, July 13, 2009


Boston EMS CreatesAED Database

Boston EMS has another tool to save cardiac arrest patients. EMS dispatchers now automatically receive an alert if they enter an address with an AED on site and can tell callers the specific location.

There are hundreds of public AEDs in Boston buildings, but they_re of little help if bystanders don_t know where they are. AEDs are becoming so commonplace, a person might walk by one every day but not notice or remember its location in a moment of stress.

Boston EMS compiled the database of AED locations during sessions to train thousands of people in CPR and AED operations. Jennifer Mehigan, Boston EMS director of media relations, says AED maintenance is part of the training Boston EMS provides for security personnel at businesses, public buildings, stores and organizations.

"Boston EMS has one of the highest cardiac arrest Âsave_ rates in the country, and we hope to raise the bar even further," said Dispatch Operations Deputy Superintendent and Commander Joseph O_Hare in a press release.

Congressman questions W-2s for Volunteers

Congressman David Wu(D-OR) is urging the IRS to reverse a new income-reporting requirement that affects volunteer EMS and fire personnel. Departments formerly reported nominal payments and benefits for volunteers using Form 1099, but now the IRS makes them use Form W-2. This means organizations must report volunteer payments and benefits just as they do for employees, which contradicts the Department of Labor_s definition of a volunteer and subjects volunteers to federal and state employment laws.

Also, if a volunteer department suddenly has "employees," it might need to comply with state and local requirements that don_t apply to volunteer departments.

In a May letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, Wu wrote, "Our ultimate concern is that changes to reporting requirements will place an undue burden on Ú departments and volunteer[s], resulting in a corresponding loss in volunteerism." The letter was signed by 17 other members of Congress.

Wu is also concerned that the IRS is inconsistent in its enforcement: Some departments continue to use 1099s with no consequences, but others that continue to follow the long-standing procedures for volunteers are fined and billed for past taxes.

The May 15 issue of "On Scene" has a call to action from International Association of Fire Chiefs First Vice-President Chief Jeffrey D. Johnson on the issue. Read it atwww.iafc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=1110.

"Anyone who wants to help make a difference for all of our vital volunteers should call their member of Congress and make him or her aware of this issue," says Wu. "We all need to work together to advocate for a clear, consistent tax policy that treats volunteer first responders appropriately."

Thank you, David Wu!

The Feds Fight the Flu

When the H1N1 flu first appeared in the U.S. in late April, federal agencies quickly mobilized to create guidelines for EMS responders.

Two years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published "EMS Pandemic Influenza Guidelines for Statewide Adoption" (and a companion document for 9-1-1 centers and personnel), consensus documents developed under the leadership of the National Association of State EMS Officials. But these generic guidelines call for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to take the lead in developingspecific guidance when an actual flu epidemic strikes.

On April 25, the day after the CDC issued interim guidance on H1N1 for health-care providers, the NHTSA Office of EMS began working with CDC staff to develop specific interim guidance for EMS and 9-1-1 centers. On Sunday, April 26, NHTSA held a teleconference to get input from EMS physicians and state EMS directors and representatives of the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS), which represents nearly a dozen federal agencies involved with EMS.

"It was quite an impressive group, and each of them touched base with other folks, so we got a great amount of input in a short time from the CDC and EMS medical experts," says NHTSA EMS Chief Drew Dawson.

After that call, NHTSA EMS Specialist Gamunu Wijetunge, EMT-P, took the lead and worked with other FICEMS staff members to draft an EMS guidance document, which was submitted to the CDC for review the next morning. According to Dawson, the document went back and forth between CDC and NHTSA several times before it was finalized and posted on the CDC Web site (www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance_ems.htm) on Wednesday, April 29, and disseminated to the EMS community.

"The CDC has expertise that no one else in the world has, but FICEMS agencies brought their expertise on EMS and EMS problems to the table," Wijetunge says, adding that relationships already created between staff at FICEMS agencies were invaluable.

We applaud NHTSA, the CDC and other FICEMS member agencies for moving quickly and cooperatively to inform and protect the EMS community.

Headaches from Bayer

Since the anthrax scare of 2001, an envelope filled with white powder is likely to evoke panic and a costly emergency response. But the marketers of Bayer Aspirin must have been on another planet for the past eight years: In May, they mailed out 33,561 envelopes with samples of Bayer Quick Release Crystalsƒa white powderƒprompting emergency officials nationwide to issue warnings about the mailing. "All public safety personnel and hospitals should be aware of these mailings and the potential to present as Âwhite powder_ calls," the Ohio Department of Public Safety warned on its EMS listserv.JEMS

Read "Did AEDs Make a Difference?"atjems.com/Wesley




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Related Topics: Administration and Leadership, Communications and Dispatch, Cardiac and Circulation, PPE and Infection Control, Medical Emergencies, Operations and Protcols, Jems Last Word

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