HAPPY NEW YEAR! Going Forward into 2024
Our New York State Emergency Medical Services, while considered a necessity (and they certainly proved themselves during the pandemic!), is not YET considered an ESSENTIAL SERVICE. Hopefully, that designation will soon be changing. NYS Senate Bill S2719, which would classify emergency medical services as essential services for the purposes of state aid, has passed both houses and, as of this writing, is currently waiting for Governor Hochul’s signature.
However, Governor Hochul did recently sign NYS Direct Pay Bill S1466/A250A which authorizes insurance payments to nonparticipating or nonpreferred providers of ambulance services licensed under article 30 of the public health law. This bill will help to ensure that ambulance agencies will be reimbursed for more of their operating costs. The Governor also signed the FY 2024 Enacted Budget; the Enacted Budget provides an additional $22 billion multi-year investment to support the State’s health care system.
We saw the END of COVID, but we didn’t – this past fall we’ve seen a spike in COVID cases and recommendations to update our vaccines aimed to guard against the latest variants. Since 2020, though, EMS in NYS (and country-wide) has lost several providers… to illness, deaths, and disabilities, and others due to pure burnout from the vast number of non-stop COVID-related calls.
Even before COVID, many New York EMS agencies, both volunteer and paid, were reporting the loss of qualified personnel as being the major reason for delays and missed calls. While our EMS responders are all highly trained and vitally necessary for our well-being, the average low pay has adversely affected paid services and made full crews and prompt response only a dismal hope. The salary inequity has deterred many from making EMS their first career choice.
EMS Agenda 2050’s vision of a socially equitable EMS system states, “In a socially equitable system, access to care, quality of care, and outcomes are not determined by age, race, socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, geography, or other social determinants…” The Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) also encourages creating a more diverse EMS workforce to reflect the communities in which they serve and enabling more educational opportunities as well as comparable pay.
The National Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council has added its recommendations to mitigate negative impacts to EMS well-being by recognizing EMS practitioners as essential healthcare workers and helping to alleviate some of the stress and exposure of our EMS workforce during public health emergencies and everyday response. Although there was a stream of guidance provided to “healthcare workers in a healthcare setting” it did not include EMS responders.
“In a crisis, the community sends its best as first responders. Among them are EMTs trained to save lives. The education of an EMT starts on day one in the classroom and never ends.” ~ Bureau of NYS EMS. Contact your Regional EMS Council to find out about upcoming classes in your area.
On January 27, 2024, FASNY Emergency Medical Services Committee presents an EMS Conference in Selden, New York (https://fasny.com/training/annual-ems-conference). The New York State Emergency Management Association (NYSEMA) will be holding its 2024 NYSEMA Conference February 13-15, 2024, in Syracuse, NY (https://nysema.org/). Watch our First Responder Events Calendar for more events throughout the year.