National EMS Advisory Council recommendations

At a recent meeting of the National Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council (NEMSAC), seven advisories were finalized and others were drafted. “This meeting was pretty remarkable because so many advisories came to completion after a year and a half of these members’ hard work,” said Vince Robbins, chairman. “These council members began their work in May of 2015, and 19 out of 25 of those seats were new appointees.”

Among the topics addressed were the following:

  • Emergency medical services (EMS) reimbursement and payment models. Members recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS) conduct a comprehensive study of current EMS reimbursement systems and work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to classify EMS as a “provider” instead of a “supplier.”
  • Health information exchanges. The council approved the Data Integration and Technology Committee’s call for FICEMS to support a “universal health record with bidirectional flow to all who care for patients.”
  • Paramedic education. The need for a strategic plan for the various tiers of paramedic education including at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate level degrees was discussed. The committee recommended that NHTSA convene a group to “craft the essentials of a core curriculum for the supplemental content in the formal paramedicine degree.” The objective is to strengthen the industry perception of EMS providers as health care workers, bring parity with other allied health professionals, and improve wages.
  • Terms for EMS providers. Streamlining the numerous terms used for EMS providers was discussed. Various suggestions were made by committee members and members of the public. The council voted 10-5 in favor of not suggesting a specific term, and the interim advisory reads: “FICEMS and the Department of Transportation should officially recognize an all-inclusive standard generic term nationally to describe all health care providers performing within the field of paramedicine, regardless of certification or licensure.” A final vote on the advisory will take place later in 2017.

Robbins explained that the EMS system codified in the 1970s has evolved into something very different from what it was. “We need to recognize this evolution and give it a name,” he said. “It is not really just EMS anymore.” The NEMSAC’s final and interim advisories are available on the NEMSAC Web site at https://www.ems.gov/nemsac.html.

Panel members needed for “EMS Agenda 2050” initiative

Preparation is underway for members of the emergency medical services (EMS) community to come together to plan for the future of the profession and develop the “EMS Agenda 2050.”

“Our commitment is to gather ideas, hopes, dreams, and aspirations from anyone and everyone who would like to see a bright and bold future for EMS,” says Mike Taigman, project facilitator. “The process will be wide open and inclusive; all ideas are welcome. In addition to having knowledge of health care and EMS, ideal members of the Technical Expert Panel [TEP] will have a bias for collaboration, an ability to dream big, and a willingness to step beyond the comfort zone.”

“It’s not often that we have the opportunity to bring together members of our diverse profession, along with our partners in health care and public safety and members of the public, to collaborate and develop a true vision for the next generation of EMS,” notes Jon Krohmer, MD, director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of EMS.

NHTSA and partners at the Health Resources and Services Administration EMS for Children program; the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services; and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Health Affairs are funding the initiative.

The TEP will serve as the core team to create the new Agenda. Panel members will gather feedback from stakeholders through public meetings and comment, and they will assess evidence and data from which to create a vision that best meets the evolving needs of communities across the country, explains the NHTSA. There will be an open call for applications for persons wishing to serve on the panel. At press time, information on the submission process was to be made available “soon” on EMSAgenda2050.org.

Each national organization has been asked to appoint a liaison to the project to participate in meetings, provide updates, and receive feedback from the community.

Members of the public will participate over the next two years through regional stakeholder meetings, webinars, and conference sessions; they will also be able to submit public comments. To receive announcements about the EMS Agenda 2050 project and the TEP application process, sign up at EMSAgenda2050.org.

NFPA releases fire service needs assessment report

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released its “Fourth Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service” report that contains survey results for the years 2001, 2005, 2010, and 2015. According to the report, all-career departments protected 48 percent of the U.S. population; all volunteer departments, 20 percent; mostly volunteer departments, 17 percent; and mostly career departments, 16 percent. The number of all-career fire departments increased to 8 percent in 2015 from 6 percent in 2001; the number of mostly career departments increased from 5 percent in 2001 to 6 percent in 2015; and mostly volunteer departments increased from 14 percent in 2001 to 18 percent in 2015. All-volunteer departments dropped from 76 percent in 2001 to 69 percent in 2015.

Among other findings contained in the report are the following: In 2015, 49 percent of all U.S. firefighters performed structural firefighting without training, compared with 55 percent in 2001, up from 46 percent in 2010. Small fire departments have a substantial gap in training and equipment needs in comparison with large fire departments. The complete Fourth Needs Assessment report is at http://bit.ly/2gO4LN3.

Susan Collins to chair the CFSC

Senator Susan Collins (ME) will be the chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus (CFSC) for the 115th Congress. “Senator Collins has been a tireless advocate for firefighters in her home state of Maine and across the entire nation. Her leadership and commitment to public safety have made a difference on so many issues, enabling legislation to move through the Senate that has had a direct benefit on our nation’s fire and emergency services,” notes Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI). Collins was elected to the Senate in November 1996. She received the 2013 CFSI Legislator of the Year award for her leadership and support of the nation’s fire and emergency services.

Web tool for cancer patients

Springboard Beyond Cancer (http://bit.ly/2mtFfMV) is a free, mobile-friendly Web tool designed to help empower cancer patients to play a key role in managing their health. Developed jointly by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Cancer Society (ACS), the tool facilitates managing ongoing cancer-related symptoms, dealing with stress, improving healthy behaviors, communicating with the health care team, and seeking support from friends and family. In addition, users are provided with a platform for sharing their experiences.

Firefighter Cancer Registry Act introduced in the House

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. (NJ-9) introduced H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/931/text) in the U.S House of Representatives in February. The bill would create a national cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with cancer. Studies have indicated a strong link between firefighting and an increased risk of various cancers, which has been associated with firefighters’ frequent exposure to harmful toxins.

A specialized national cancer registry would expand access to vital epidemiological data that would enable public health researchers to thoroughly examine cancer trends among firefighters. Studies done so far were limited by the absence of data, inadequate sample size of the studies, and a cohort group that was not adequately representative of the demographics of the fire service as they pertain to women, minorities, and volunteer firefighters.

Campus fire prevention education program proposed

At the end of January, Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. (NJ-9) and Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) introduced the Campus Fire Safety Education Act in the House of Representatives (H.R. 746) and the Senate (S. 246), respectively. The bill would initiate a grant program at the Department of Education that would enable institutions of higher education to implement fire prevention and education programs. H.R. 746 was referred to the House Committee on Education and Workforce, and S. 246 was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

LINE-OF-DUTY DEATHS

January 18. Captain Daniel Havicus, 41, Tracy (CA) Fire Department: fell ill on his shift on January 8, was eventually hospitalized, and passed away on January 18.

February 4. Firefighter Ryan Thomas Moyer, 31, Waldo (WI) Fire Department: accident while operating his vehicle.

February 6. Firefighter Ethan Cunningham, 47, Syracuse (NY) Fire Department: found deceased at home; cause to be determined.

February 8. Firefighter John “Mike” Michael Cummins, 46, Homer (IL) Fire Protection District: fatal medical injury still to be reported.

February 11. Fire Engineer Douglas McCauley, 59, Des Moines (IA) Fire Department: significant medical injury; nature still to be reported.

February 14. Chief Bill Matthews, 73, Bassville (MS) Volunteer Fire Department: massive heart attack.

February 16. Chief Paul Murdoch, 56, Greybull (WY) Volunteer Fire Department: found unresponsive at his home; cause to be reported.

February 18. Captain Crystal Rezzonico, 56, Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department: complications of injury suffered in August 2009 in fire apparatus accident.

February 22. Firefighter Michael “Mike” Dale Russell, 68, Leach Volunteer Fire Department, Rose, OK: accident involving fire apparatus.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

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