The Federal Pre-Hospital / EMS COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group put together two wonderful videos to encourage EMS providers to get both the COVID-19 vaccination and seasonal flu shot. Please share with your staff!
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has awarded Kate Elkins the Secretary’s Award for her dedication to improving emergency services. An EMS specialist for NHTSA’s Office of EMS, Kate received the honor for her commitment to making a positive impact on EMS and 911 systems. From overseeing the allocation of $109 million in federal 911 grants, to collaborating with federal colleagues, to increasing awareness about mental health and suicide in public safety, she approaches her work with enthusiasm and passion.
Tireless in her efforts to advocate for EMS clinicians and 911 telecommunicators, Kate has provided countless hours of her time, expertise, and experience in doing what she does best—helping others. For example, Kate has focused on efforts to improve EMS pandemic response, serving as the deputy team lead of the Prehospital (EMS/911) Team as part of the HHS/FEMA COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group. At the same time, she continued to serve her local community as a paramedic, chief officer and EMS and public health educator.
The secretary also honored the leaders of the department’s response to the COVID-19 health emergency with a gold medal for outstanding achievement, including Jon Krohmer, MD, director of the NHTSA Office of EMS. Every member of the Office of EMS team has contributed tirelessly to the department’s response and to the interagency COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group.
Congratulations to Kate and the entire team for their outstanding achievements and contributions.
Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives followed soon after by the United States Senate passed an approximately $900 billion legislative package to provide additional economic relief to businesses and individuals struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic. The package also contained numerous unrelated policy changes with several provisions on interest to ground ambulance service organizations. The AAA is currently analyzing the legislative text of the massive 3,000 plus page package and will provide members with the final analysis. In the meantime, below are some highlights.
Sequestration, which reduces Medicare reimbursement by 2% for Medicare providers and suppliers, is suspended through March 31, 2021.
Provider Relief Fund
An additional $3 billion is added to the Provider Relief Fund administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Health care providers will no longer be able to balance bill patients with private insurance. Rates will be determined through an arbitration process. The restrictions do not apply to ground ambulance services. The AAA along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Firefighters and National Association of EMTs successfully educated lawmakers about the oversight role of local governments in 911 EMS systems. The legislation instead establishes an Advisory Committee on Ground Ambulance Billing which will issue a report to Congress on its findings. The AAA will be pushing for representatives of the AAA to be on the Committee.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Another round of $284 billion in PPP funding is made available to small businesses hit especially hard by the pandemic. Businesses must employ 300 or fewer employees and report losses of 25% or more in order to qualify. For ground ambulance service organizations which receive PPP funds under the past round or the current one, expenses covered by forgiven funds will now be deductible.
Today’s AAA webinar, “Wrapping Up a Year for the Record Books”, will include an overview of the stimulus package. This webinar is free for AAA members. Register Here!
Vaccine campaign dawns in Georgia; Kemp attends 2nd day of doses
… Chatham EMS Chief Chuck Kearns got the call Tuesday. His paramedics are in line for vaccination appointments next week, and his staff immediately prepared a blast email to go out first thing Wednesday on how to sign up.
“We’ve had over 100 personnel who’ve gone into quarantine at one time or another since March,” Kearns said. “When they got the result of tests for quarantine, days were cut in half. We’ve had a few dozen of our employees test positive and some were hospitalized.” He added that this is the 10th epidemic he’s worked as a paramedic, starting with AIDS. To him, his staff’s vaccines are arriving fast enough.
To inform a forthcoming rapid expert consultation on building public confidence in SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) of the National Academies will hold an information gathering session on vaccine confidence. The session will cover the current state of vaccine confidence, reasons for hesitancy, and best practices for messaging. Facilitated discussions will incorporate special attention to communities at higher risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19, including underserved and vulnerable communities. Drawing from what is known about reaching and engaging diverse audiences to change beliefs and attitudes, this session will illustrate strategies that are likely to promote uptake of FDA-approved vaccines to prevent COVID-19.
This project is being done in collaboration with the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats.
TAU finding suggests technology can be installed in air conditioning, vacuum, and water systems
Researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) have proven that the coronavirus can be killed efficiently, quickly, and cheaply using ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs). They believe that the UV-LED technology will soon be available for private and commercial use.
This is the first study conducted on the disinfection efficiency of UV-LED irradiation at different wavelengths or frequencies on a virus from the family of coronaviruses. The study was led by Professor Hadas Mamane, Head of the Environmental Engineering Program at TAU’s School of Mechnical Engineering, Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering. The article was published in November 2020 issue of the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology.
DALLAS, Texas – The coronavirus pandemic has strained the country’s hospital systems and pushed front-line workers mentally and physically as the number of cases spikes upward again. Some agencies dealing with budget issues due to demand in personal protective equipment (PPE) and an uptick in calls have been forced to shutter, begging the question of who will respond in the event of an emergency?
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed America’s 911 system and emergency responders to a “breaking point,” with ambulance operators exhausted and their services financially strained, according to the group that represents them.
The situation since the novel coronavirus struck last winter has grown so dire that the American Ambulance Association recently begged the Department of Health and Human Services for $2.6 billion in emergency funding.
(CNN)With the Covid-19 surge straining America’s health care system, the 911 emergency call system has been stretched to “the breaking point,” the American Ambulance Association says.
Ambulance services are critical in getting sick patients to hospitals for care, and the American Ambulance Association, which represents all of the nation’s ambulance services, said they are struggling to stay together.
Hospitalizations have reached an all-time high with more than 100,200 admissions, according to the COVID Tracking Project. And more than 3,100 deaths were reported Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The American Ambulance Association has warned that the emergency response system has reached a “breaking point” as the coronavirus rages across the country in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The 911 emergency medical system throughout the United States is at a breaking point,” Aarron Reinert, the president of the American Ambulance Association, said in the Nov. 25 letter, obtained by The Hill. “Without additional relief, it seems likely to break, even as we enter the third surge of the virus in the Mid-West and West.”
Stefan Hofer’s ambulance company, West Traill EMS, in Mayville, North Dakota, has received only one or two calls that weren’t related to Covid-19 over the past two months. But he said the case count has ballooned by 20 to 30 percent because of the pandemic. At the same time, the company’s expenses have mounted, its revenue has cratered and its workforce is being decimated by the virus.
The company — which is private and supported by volunteers, a few employees and four trucks — covers more than 1,500 miles of North Dakota prairie and serves about 10,000 people on the far east side of the state.
Private EMS services, both in urban and rural centers across the country, collectively received $350 million in Covid-19 relief funds in April, but those companies said that money ran out within weeks. Months later, the need remains great as they face another coronavirus surge.
Their Pandemic Safety Plan Starts With a ‘Decontamination Station’
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the lives of many American families. Follow this weekly feature called “Family, Interrupted” to find out how.
Quentin and Stacy Blakley opened the “decontamination station” in their home garage as the coronavirus pandemic took root in Georgia in March and have never shut it down. Mr. Blakley, 45, an Atlanta firefighter based at the city’s international airport, uses it to protect his family from a job that exposes him to strangers daily. At the end of each 24-hour shift attending to aircraft emergencies and medical calls, he returns to his South Fulton, Ga., home and removes his uniform in the garage. No exceptions. He showers away from Stacy, 45, and their four sons — ages 14, 12 and a set of 9-year-old twins — then dumps his clothing in a bag to be washed. Finally, Mr. Blakley walks into his house.
With vaccines and a new administration, the pandemic will be tamed. But experts say the coming months “are going to be just horrible.”
The nation now must endure a critical period of transition, one that threatens to last far too long, as we set aside justifiable optimism about next spring and confront the dark winter ahead. Some epidemiologists predict that the death toll by March could be close to twice the 250,000 figure that the nation surpassed only last week.
“The next three months are going to be just horrible,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health and one of two dozen experts interviewed by The New York Times about the near future.
Coronavirus Was In U.S. Weeks Earlier Than Previously Known, Study Says
The coronavirus was present in the U.S. weeks earlier than scientists and public health officials previously thought, and before cases in China were publicly identified, according to a new government study published Monday.
The virus and the illness that it causes, COVID-19, was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, but it wasn’t until Jan. 19 that the first confirmed COVID-19 case, from a traveler returning from China, was found in the U.S.