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Massachusetts Law Allows Reduced ALS Staffing

Massachusetts lawmakers have passed new legislation that allows municipalities and private companies to cut the staffing of their ALS ambulances.

The Boston Globe reports that an amendment to the Municipal Relief Act lets departments and companies staff advanced life support units with one paramedic and one emergency medical technician, instead of two paramedics. The act, signed by Governor Deval Patrick, has come under fire by the Professional Fire Fighters Association of Massachusetts. Association President Robert. B. McCarthy believes that lobbying by private ambulance companies is the reason for the reduction and is tied to increased ambulance rates.

Officials from the Massachusetts Ambulance Authority and the Department of Public Health counter that other states have similar policies and that a majority of the service in Massachusetts already operates with the 1-and-1 staffing (one paramedic, one EMT).

The new law will take effect once the Department of Public Health writes the necessary regulations.