An area lawmaker has proposed legislation that would lessen certain restrictions on volunteer ambulance services.
State Representative CD Davidsmeyer of Jacksonville has been working with the Waverly Fire Department to help improve ambulance staffing.
Currently, the law in the state of Illinois says that a volunteer department has to have two EMTs in their emergency medical services vehicle during calls. The proposed measure would allow rural areas flexibility in staffing ambulances, so they can respond to emergencies faster.
Davidsmeyer says some rural areas have trouble meeting ambulance staffing requirements, which can lead to long wait times for individuals in an emergency and in need of an ambulance.
“The concern they have, and especially in rural populations where you have an aging population, the biggest concern of theirs was strokes and heart attacks. We all know how important it is for emergency personnel to respond as quickly as possible specifically to those things and the myriad of other issues.
So what this bill does is it says that as long as you have one EMT that person can be the medical person in the vehicle, and you can have a volunteer firefighter to drive the vehicle. It doesn’t require to have an EMT to drive the vehicle, but an EMR which is a lower standard.”
Davidsmeyer filed House Bill 0628 in early February which would allow volunteer ambulance services in rural or semi-rural areas of 10,000 or fewer residents to apply for alternate staffing authorization from the Department of Public Health.
Davidsmeyer says his amendment to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act would be effective immediately after passage and would ensure that alternate staffing authorizations would not expire.
“The person in the back obviously can be an EMT or higher, but the driver has to be qualified to run that vehicle however that vehicle is licensed as. So basically they would apply to the department and ask for permission to do this, and once it’s granted they would be able to have permission, actually forever.”
Davidsmeyer’s legislation was approved in committee recently. HB628 now moves to the full House for consideration.