Rep. Wild Re-Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Correctly Count EMS Personnel, Better Meet Community Health and Safety Needs
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (D-PA) was joined by Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA) in introducing the EMS Counts Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the chronic miscounting of first responders, particularly firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. This is essential to ensuring that communities are able to quickly respond to emergencies, including outbreaks of diseases and natural disasters. Introduced by Wild and Keller in the 116th Congress last October as a key way to prepare our communities in the case of future crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, this legislation would ensure the federal government is collecting accurate, comprehensive data on the quantity, location, and training of first responders throughout the United States.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have seen this diverse group of health care practitioners step up to serve our communities in inspiring and selfless ways, and making sure we have an accurate count of these first responders will help us meet the health and safety needs of our communities through this crisis and in future emergencies,” Wild said. “I’m proud to join my colleague from Pennsylvania, Rep. Fred Keller, in re-introducing this common-sense, bipartisan legislation that will help ensure our community is prepared for emergencies.”
“Current occupational data collection methods often overlook the fact that emergency personnel, especially in rural communities, are tasked with performing multiple duties to keep the public safe,” Keller said. “As a result, these departments are missing out on much needed support because of incomplete data. I am proud to join Congresswoman Wild in reintroducing the EMS Counts Act to correct the chronic undercounting of first responders and ensure these brave men and women have the resources they need to respond effectively to emergencies and protect their communities.”
EMS consists of a diverse group of first responders and health care practitioners, including Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and dual-role Firefighter/EMTs and Firefighter/Paramedics. These professionals respond to nearly 28.5 million 9-1-1 calls each year. The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics (BLS) collects data and releases a monthly jobs report, which includes job creation and loss information. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor’s current occupational classification system does not accurately classify firefighters whose primary job is being a paramedic or EMT. Not recognizing their cross-training leads to a significant and chronic undercount of EMS personnel in the U.S. Without correct data on the number of EMTs and Paramedics practicing throughout the U.S., it is difficult to track gaps in emergency services and meet the emergency health care needs of communities, including planning for daily needs and major disasters.
“The IAFC thanks Rep. Wild for introducing the EMS Counts Act. This bill recognizes the crucial role of firefighters in providing EMS care by requiring the Bureau of Labor Statistics to include dual-role firefighters/EMS personnel in their count of EMS personnel,” said Chief Ken Stuebing, Acting President and Chairman of the Board of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “Obtaining an accurate count of EMS providers is key to developing sound federal programs that provide for the health and safety of communities. The IAFC urges Congress to support the EMS Counts Act and recognize the intrinsic connection between EMS and firefighters.”
“NAEMT applauds Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) and Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA) for their leadership in re-introducing the EMS Counts Act. The bill will require the Secretary of Labor to revise the Standard Occupational Classification System to more accurately count the number of Paramedics and EMTs in the United States,” said Bruce Evans, President of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT). “This legislation will improve the ability of our states and communities to effectively utilize their EMS workforce to care for the sick and injured and respond to major disasters and public health crises as well as compete for Federal funding. We look forward to working with Rep. Wild and Rep. Keller on this foundational bill to better capture the number of Paramedics and EMTs in our country. As our EMS colleagues in every community across the nation continue to be the tip of the spear on responding to COVID and all other calls, the EMS Counts Act is critical to accurately count our EMS personnel as the Government is looking at these numbers for such things as vaccine distribution for first responders. We call on Congress to pass this bill in short order.”
The EMS Counts Act would require the Secretary of Labor to revise the Standard Occupational Classification System by dividing the general occupational category of Firefighter into four sub-categories to allow firefighters to identify themselves as cross-trained EMS providers to better ensure an accurate count of trained EMS professionals throughout our communities.
A fact sheet summarizing the bill is available HERE.
Text of the legislation is available HERE.