ALBANY, 05/23/13 -- State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I – Oneonta) today announced introduction of legislation he is sponsoring that will extend the emergency medical technician five-year recertification demonstration program. Senator Seward’s bill (S.5152) provides active volunteer emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in certain counties with additional time to meet recertification requirements.
“Volunteer EMTs play a vital role in our healthcare system, particularly in rural areas,” said Senator Seward. “Unfortunately, we have experienced a steady drop in the number of volunteer EMTs and need to look for ways to stave off that decline. Allowing additional time for active volunteers to complete their recertification can help keep EMT numbers up without jeopardizing patient safety.”
Senator Seward sponsored legislation creating the demonstration program in 2001. The law extended the period for recertification for emergency medical technicians and advanced emergency medical technicians from three years to five years. It was subsequently extended in 2008 and is set to expire on July 1, 2013.
If approved, the bill would extend the demonstration program until July 1, 2018. The program is limited to EMTs who practice in the following counties: Delaware, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Nassau, Otsego, Schoharie or Suffolk.
The Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has reported 61,308 certified providers statewide as of May 1, 2013, a decrease of 3,469 providers since 2003.
“Volunteer emergency squads lose members all the time and are constantly relying on a smaller pool to provide vital urgent care,” said Sid Chase, Worcester Emergency Squad captain and member of the Otsego County EMS Advisory Council. “As someone who has seen firsthand the advantages of the five year recertification program, I applaud Senator Seward’s vision in advocating for the continuation of this effective policy.”
“EMTs meet stringent requirements to receive their certification. Providing these highly-trained individuals additional time for recertification helps ensure that our volunteer departments are properly staffed and able to respond when help is needed,” Seward added.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Health Committee, a companion bill (A.7170) has also been introduced in the state assembly.