Local officials: Potential legislation may harm EMS
February 9, 2010
Moffat County officials contend state legislation under development may hurt rural emergency medical services.
The potential legislation expected to be introduced this year would "take the three aspects of medical oversight for EMS and transfers the authority to manage that from the Board of Medical Examiners to the Colorado Department of Health," said Eric Schmidt, who serves the Northwest Colorado region on the Regional Emergency Medical and Trauma Advisory councils.
"Those three aspects of oversight would be emergency medical technicians' scope of practice in the field, qualifications of medical directors, and waivers in scopes of practice," Schmidt said.
If passed, Schmidt said the legislation would pave the way for all EMS services to be managed by the state, per the suggestion of The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma.
The ACS made more than 100 suggestions to improve the current trauma system in the state as part of a recent study.
One suggestion was that the state switch the control of EMS and ambulance services from the Board of Medical Examiners to the Department of Health, instead of it remaining in control of local and county governments.
The suggestion may make its way into legislation this session, Schmidt said.
Schmidt met Monday with Tom Soos, coordinator of the office of emergency management for Moffat County, and the Moffat County Commission to discuss the results of the study and how it would affect rural counties such as Moffat County.
Both Schmidt and Soos are opposed to the legislation and contend that there is nothing wrong with the current system, and adding more bureaucracy to the system would be a step in the wrong direction.
The suggestion is garnering attention from rural areas where EMS services are designed to meet the unique needs of the area, Schmidt said.
"The way we have it now, it works fine," Moffat County commissioner Tom Mathers said. "It seems like every time the state steps in it's for two reasons — for power and for money."
Commissioner Audrey Danner said any legislation "might see less money going to services and more going to administration."
The suggestion and potential legislation may force the county licensing and requirements of trauma centers, ambulances and EMTs out of the county's control. The commissioners met this with disapproval, saying that Moffat County's unique aspects are best served by a locally controlled EMS.
"(Moffat County) would lose its autonomy," Schmidt said. "The EMS services currently provided are designed specifically for Moffat County."
Another factor of the suggestion would be that the money needed to create state level trauma control might come from money set aside to be allocated in grants to EMS services, Schmidt said.
"It would put additional pressure on local government, and it's already hard enough to provide EMS service," Danner said.