On May 3rd and 4th, I was in Washington D.C for The first annual EMS On The Hill event presented by the National Association of EMT’s and Advocates for EMS. At this event, we as a profession took a huge step towards bringing EMS
to the next level. The event started on the evening of the 3rd,
with a meeting between the participants and high ranking members of the
NAEMT. We were brought up to speed, and given materials on the
legislation we would be advocating for, followed by a briefing of what
to expect the following afternoon on the hill.
The room was pact with a mix of field providers, educators and chiefs from around the country, and I had a feeling very similar to the
one I had at the Chronicles of EMS primer.
The feeling of pride and community one gets when in the company of
people who share the same passion for ones cause. “When we first came
up with this idea, we thought that if we could get 30 or 40 people in
one place, that would be something” said Jerry Jonston of the NAEMT.
What resulted was 140 professionals, representing 40 states and Puerto
Rico, all here for one reason, to make EMS better for ourselves, and
the patients and communities we serve.
On a side note, myself and my GenMed colleague Natalie Quebodeaux were the youngest providers there. Our excitement and enthusiasm was
both refreshing and motivating to everyone we spoke to. Why were we all
here in the first place? We were here to show our shared legislative
priorities as EMS Practitioners. First the Medicare Ambulance Access Preservation Act of 2009 (S.
1066, H.R. 2243), which would provide permanent Medicare Reimbursement
relief for ambulance services consistent with the 1997 GAO report that
determined that ambulance providers are paid significantly below cost.
And the Dale Long Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act (S. 1353) along with the Nongovernmental Emergency Responder Family Protection Act (H.R.
2485). Both bills would extend the federal Line of Duty Death benefits
to EMS professionals employed by private and non-profit EMS agencies.
After the briefing, we were divided in to groups by our representing states, and quickly became acquainted with one another. I was proud to
represent my home state of California, and would be doing so with
members from the San Francisco Paramedics Association,
and Paramedics from Riverside, Tuolumne, and Contra Costa county. The
next afternoon was game day, and delegations from 40 stats spent the
day meeting with their states senators and or staff. My group had
meetings with staff members of our senators Barbara Boxer and Diane
Feinstein. The Meetings went great, and the staff members
were very interested and understanding of our mission. After my
meetings, Natalie invited me to sit in on her meetings that were sit to
begin shortly. She was representing Louisiana, and I met some wonderful
people there. Ken Bouvier and Dr. Jullette Saussy Director of New Orleans EMS.
Also Tim Morrison. It was very interesting to see how different the
delivery of the information and our message was between the two states.
That evening, there was a small reception, and Natalie and I were fortunate to have a long conversation with KC Jones, the NAEMT
Educational Director of Region IV. We talked about the differences in
our systems, the new educational standards, and brainstormed ways to
create a more unified EMS system in the U.S. It is because of events
like this, that I am confident EMS is on the right track toward
progressing to the high level profession it deserves to be. Personally
I found the whole experience to be very rewarding, and I am already
looking forward to next year.
When the political hat was put away, I was able to meet (in person) some great friends and EMS professionals. Scott Kier (@MedicSBK) and his friend Emily drove down from Massachusetts to hang out, explore
the capital a bit, and and share in some good times over dinner and
breakfast . Also Matt Bassit (@squirrel325)
and his girl friend (another Emily) was able to come out and show us
around the city. Matt was great company, and has a unique background of
experience to draw from when it comes to public safety. EMS On The
Hill, great people coming together for a great cause. Ya can’t beat