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New National Standards for EMTs May Threaten Rural Emergency Services


New York, Dec 29, 2004

Proposed national standards for emergency medical technicians (EMTs), fire fighters and other first responders have some rural communities concerned over the toll they might take on volunteers that provide emergency medical services (EMS).

The new standards would more than double the amount of training all emergency response personnel would need for certification to ensure a highly qualified national corps of emergency medical providers. Supporters of the proposed standards point to the benefits of giving EMTs more responsibilities in the field, which would allow them to administer medicines for heart attack, stroke, and trauma victims. In addition, streamlined training for EMTs would facilitate greater mobility for these professionals between states.

However, in rural areas these providers generally comprise volunteer crews. In these communities many fear changed regulations will limit the pool of new recruits and force experienced EMTs to drop out, and may hit volunteer fire departments particularly hard.

Funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Health Resources and Human Services Administration (HRSA), the National EMS Scope of Practice Model is part of an integrated plan to strengthen the infrastructure of EMS education as proposed in the NHTSA’s “EMS Education Agenda for the Future.” NHTSA awarded a cooperative agreement to the National Association of State EMS Directors (NASEMSD) to lead this project.

The draft document was released in June 2004 to the EMS community and aims to reflect “the broadest possible consensus” by inviting comments for improvements to the draft. Based on the comments received, the document will be revised and submitted for review and refinement by a national review team in the spring of 2005. The final document is due to the NHTSA and the Health Resources Services Administration by fall 2005.

To view the document, go to http://emsscopeofpractice.org. Written comments may be sent to:

Amy Starchville
NASEMSD
201 Park Washington Court
Falls Church, VA 22046-4527

Comments may be received through January 30, 2005.

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