EMS Professionals Advocate For the Profession, Practitioners

CLINTON, Miss. — On May 4 in Washington, D.C., 145 EMS professionals from 39 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico advocated for EMS at the second annual EMS on the Hill Day. The event was hosted by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) to help ensure that emergency medical services (EMS) has a strong voice in the nation’s capitol and in government decisions that affect its practitioners and their ability to provide quality patient care to their patients.

Participants met with more than 217 U.S. Senators, House Representatives, and their congressional staff. With a new Congress, it was critical that EMS professionals educate their legislators in the Senate and House of Representatives on EMS issues and advocate for the passage of key EMS legislation. Last year, the EMS profession “came of age” with its first designated day for meeting with congressional leaders. Building upon that success, EMS on the Hill Day 2011 included representation from all sectors of the EMS community, sent a consistent message to elected leaders on the important issues facing EMS in our country, and gave EMS professionals the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with congessional leaders.

The program included a pre-Hill Visit briefing to prepare participants for visiting Congressional leaders, as well as a reception, hosted by NAEMT, for all participants, congressional leaders and staff, and federal agency staff.

“EMS on the Hill Day is a unique event that provides the opportunity for EMS professionals to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress want to hear from their constituents about issues that matter,” says Connie A. Meyer, NAEMT President. “I am pleased that so many EMS professionals made it a priority to come to Washington, D.C. The more EMS professionals who participate in EMS on the Hill Day, the louder our national voice.”

Issues participants addressed with their representatives included:

  • The Medicare Ambulance Access Preservation Act of 2011 (S. 424, H.R. 1005) — To provide extended Medicare reimbursement relief for ambulance services consistent with the 2007 GAO report that determined that they are paid significantly below cost. It would provide a 6 percent increase for ambulance transports originating in urban or rural areas and add a bonus payment for transports originating in super rural areas.
  • The Dale Long Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act (S. 385) – This bill would extend the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program – which currently only applies to those employed by a federal, state or local government entity – to EMS professionals employed by private, non-profit EMS agencies.
  • The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011 (S. 28, H.R. 607) — To allocate the D-Block spectrum for public safety and fund the build-out of a nationwide public safety broadband network around the D Block and adjacent bandwidth already licensed by public safety.

Those EMS professionals who were not able to attend the EMS on the Hill Day event are encouraged to add their voice to national EMS advocacy efforts. Through NAEMT’s Capwiz online advocacy service (http://capwiz.com/naemt/home/), they easily can send letters urging their Senators and House Representatives to co-sponsor these bills. It takes only minutes — all participants need to do is enter their ZIP code, and Capwiz determines their congressional representatives and provides a draft letter. It then e-mails or faxes it.

EMS on the Hill Day 2011 sponsors included the American Ambulance Association, EMS World, OnStar, 5.11 Tactical, American Heart Association, Frazer, Gold Cross, Masimo, Physio Control, EVS, Ltd., and Page, Wolfberg & Wirth, LLC.

More than 32,000 members strong, NAEMT is the nation’s only professional association representing all EMS practitioners, including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, first responders and other professionals working in prehospital emergency medicine. NAEMT members work in all sectors of EMS, including government service agencies, fire departments, hospital-based ambulance services, private companies, industrial and special operations settings, and in the military.

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