On December 16, Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced the “Field EMS Quality, Innovation, and Cost Effectiveness Improvements Act of 2010,” along with original co-sponsor, Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-NC). The bill (H.R. 6528) officially expired when the 112th Congress was sworn in on January 5, and is expected to be reintroduced in the new Congress.
H.R. 6528 defines “field EMS” as “emergency medical services provided to patients (pursuant to transport by ground, air, or otherwise) prior to or outside a medical facility or other clinical setting.” It defines “field EMS agency” as “an organization providing field EMS, regardless of – (A) whether such organization is governmental, nongovernmental, or volunteer; and (B) whether such organization provides field EMS by ground, air, or otherwise.”
The bill establishes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which currently houses the Office of EMS, as the “primary federal agency for field EMS” and tasks NHTSA with “develop(ing) and implement(ing) a cohesive national strategy to strengthen the development of field EMS at the Federal, State, and local levels.” While elevating NHTSA, H.R. 6528 includes a clause clarifying that, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt any statutory authority otherwise provided for any other Federal agency.”
H.R. 6528 establishes two grant programs – the Field EMS Excellence, Quality, Universal Access, Innovation and Preparedness (EQUIP) program and the Field EMS System Performance, Integration and Accountability (SPIA) program – to be administered by NHTSA. It also directs NHTSA to “establish national guidelines for training, credentialing, and direction in connection with oversight” and requires adoption of those guidelines as a condition of being eligible to receive EQUIP or SPIA funding.
Other aspects of the bill include:
- Calling for a number of studies and reports to Congress on various aspects of field EMS.
- Directing NHTSA to “maintain, improve, and expand the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS), including the National EMS Database”.
- Establishing a Field EMS Education Grant program through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
- Evaluating new models for delivery of field EMS care, including by establishing demonstration projects.
- Calling for additional research in field EMS.
- Establishing a Field EMS Practice Center.
- Establishing the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) in law to provide advice and recommendations to NHTSA, the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS, and other federal agencies with involvement in Field EMS. Currently, NEMSAC exists at the discretion of the Secretary of Transportation.
- Establishing an Emergency Care Coordination Center.
- Establishing an Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund.
The full bill language can be viewed at the Government Printing Office Web site (PDF).