Tag: Oregon

Senators Wyden & Cortez Masto Propose Mobile Crisis Response Teams

From Chairman Ron Wyden on February 18

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Taylor Harvey   

February 18, 2021

 

WYDEN, CORTEZ MASTO, SENATORS PROPOSE FUNDING TO IMPROVE PUBLIC SAFETY WITH MOBILE CRISIS RESPONSE TEAMS

After Down Payment on the Policy Included in Reconciliation Relief Legislation, CAHOOTS Act Builds on Proven Models to Help Americans with Mental Illness and Enhances Medicaid Funding to States

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and six senators today proposed a bill to help states adopt mobile crisis response teams that can be dispatched when a person is experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) crisis instead of immediately involving law enforcement. The funding is provided through an enhanced federal match rate for state Medicaid programs.

“I’m proud there is a down payment on CAHOOTS in the emergency relief package moving through Congress now,” Wyden said. “Every day there are stories across the country of Americans in mental distress getting killed or mistreated because they did not receive the emergency mental health services they needed. White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Oregon has been a pioneer for years in this area, and it’s high time the CAHOOTS model is made available to states and local governments across the country. I am eager to get the down payment signed into law and continue working to get further investments in mobile crisis services made under the bill across the finish line.”  

“Individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis deserve to be treated with compassion and care by health care and social workers,” Cortez Masto said. “These professionals are extensively trained in deescalating situations and addressing mental health crises, and this legislation would help more states across the country fund mobile crisis teams. I’m hopeful that these investments in community-based crisis intervention services will be included in the final version of the current coronavirus relief package, and I’ll continue to advocate for effective, trauma-informed care for those in need.” 

Earlier this month, the House Energy and Commerce Committee included provision in its budget reconciliation language for COVID-19 relief that makes an investment in these services by funding state Medicaid programs at an enhanced 85 percent federal match if they choose to provide qualifying community-based crisis intervention services and funding state planning grants to apply for the option. The pandemic has taken a serious toll on the mental health and wellbeing of Americans with studies showing a four-fold increase in the rates of anxiety and depressive disorders since the beginning of the pandemic.

The bill, the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) Act, grants states further enhanced federal Medicaid funding for three years to provide community-based mobile crisis services to individuals experiencing a mental health or SUD crisis. It also provides $25 million for planning grants to states and evaluations to help establish or build out mobile crisis programs and evaluate them.

Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., are co-sponsors of the CAHOOTS Act.

A one page summary of the bill can be found here. Legislative text can be found here.

Oregon | President Baird Joins OHA COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee

From the Oregon Department of Human Services on December 31

OHA completes recruitment for COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee

27-member group to create sequencing for COVID-19 immunizations

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority has completed recruitment for its Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC) that will determine the sequence in which new COVID-19 vaccines are distributed around the state.

The 27-member committee will advise OHA on vaccine sequencing for phases 1b, 1c and 2 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, with the goal of prioritizing communities most affected by COVID-19. The COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee will be grounded in OHA’s definition of health equity, which—as cited in this excerpt—is a health system where “all people can reach their full health potential and well-being and are not disadvantaged by their race, ethnicity, language, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, social class, intersections among these communities or identities, or other socially determined circumstances.”

To advance health equity, and counter unjust COVID-19 inequities, the COVID-19 VAC will:

  • Advise OHA on the ethical principles that should guide decisions on sequencing of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Review data on COVID-19 and immunization inequities.
  • Advise OHA on which workers, high-risk groups or critical populations should be sequenced at what time, taking into consideration where they are located across the state.

The committee roster is as follows:

Aileen Duldulao

Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition

Cherity Bloom-Miller

Siletz Community Health Clinic

Christine Sanders

Rockwood Community Development Corp.

Daysi Bedolla Sotelo

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste

DeLeesa Meashintubby

Volunteers in Medicine

Debra Whitefoot

Nch’i Wana Housing

Derick Du Vivier

Oregon Health & Science University

Dolores Martinez

Euvalcree

George Conway

Deschutes County Health Services

Kalani Raphael

Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition

Kelly Gonzales

Portland State University

Kristin Milligan

Community Volunteer Network

Laurie Skokan

Providence Health & Services

Leslie Sutton

Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities

Maleka Taylor

The Miracles Club

Maria Loredo

Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center

Marin Arreola

Interface Network

Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown

Crook County Health Department

Musse Olol

Somali American Council of Oregon

Nannette Carter-Jafri

SEIU Local 503 Indigenous People’s Caucus

Ruth Gulyas

LeadingAge Oregon

Safina Koreishi

Columbia Pacific CCO

Sandra McDonough

Oregon Business & Industry

Shawn Baird

Metro West Ambulance Service

Sue Steward

Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board

Tsering Sherpa

The Rosewood Initiative

Zhenya Abbruzzese

Adventist Health

“The COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee brings tremendous lived and professional experience to guide OHA’s decisions about vaccine sequencing in a way that upholds OHA’s goal to eliminate health inequities by 2030,” said Cara Biddlecom, OHA deputy public health director.

“Members of this committee represent communities that have been unjustly impacted by COVID-19, including tribal communities and communities of color, and OHA is committed to involving community members in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.”

The committee’s first public meeting is Thursday, Jan. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon. The meeting can be accessed via conference line at 669-254-5252; meeting ID: 160 583 9896.

For more information about the committee, visit the Vaccine Advisory Committee information page. Comments or questions can be emailed to covid.vaccineadvisory@dhsoha.state.or.us.

Stay informed about COVID-19:

Oregon response: The Oregon Health Authority leads the state response.

United States response: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leads the US response.

Global response: The World Health Organization guides the global response.

EMS Week Featured Service | Metro West Ambulance, Inc.

Metro West Ambulance, Inc.
Hillsboro, Oregon
Facebook | Twitter 

Meet Metro West Ambulance, Inc.

Metro West Ambulance Services, Inc. has a history rich in meeting the needs and caring for those we serve from very small rural communities to large urban areas. We’ve had great successes, marked many firsts in our industry, have been a part of the evolution of prehospital care over the decades. Founded in 1953, we have grown from a small base operation in  Forest Grove, Oregon to the largest and oldest continuously owner-operated ambulance service in the Pacific Northwest. Today our Family of Companies has over 900 employees and includes seven licensed ALS ambulance services in Oregon, one licensed ALS ambulance service in northern California, and one brokerage in Oregon serving the Pacific Northwest. Under the guidance of J.D. Fuiten, our founder’s son and our company’s owner and President, Metro West Ambulance has expanded into a Family of Companies serving Oregon, Washington and northern California.  Our companies include Metro West Ambulance, Pacific West Ambulance, Medix Ambulance, Bay Cities Ambulance, Umpqua Valley Ambulance, Mid-Valley Ambulance, Del Norte Ambulance and Woodburn Ambulance.

Metro West Ambulance , serving Washington County and the Portland Metro region provides  911 response and a variety of interfacility mobile healthcare services including Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU)  providing ICU RN level Critical Care transport; Secure Transport for behavioral health patients; EMT staffed wheelchair services plus a large event services division serving the largest venues and biggest events in our state.  We also are one of the largest providers of Mobile Integrated Health services with 18 Paramedics working with Oregon’s health systems.

The Metro West Ambulance, Inc. COVID-19 Response

In Oregon, our Governor declared a state of emergency and stay at home orders early on including school and business shut down. This allowed us to flatten the curve earlier as a state. We saw  PPE, decon, patient treatment changes became a daily occurrence; treatment changes; innovation regarding patient care; a deeper closeness with other agencies, sending and receiving hospitals because we were “in it together” and we knew this virus had no mercy and no one was immune. With the quarantine and school shut down came many tough concerns such as  childcare coverage. Crews worry about exposing their family and inadvertently bringing this awfulness home. Staff was impacted by worries about their patients who show signs of the virus, wondering if the patient survived and grieving for those who died. Instituting strict guidelines in and out of the ambulances and physical distancing to protect us all.  As we took on new challenges-we had staff expand their skill set in new roles in mobile integrated health partnering both regionally and across our country creating a virtual hospital to treat hospital patients in their own homes; our EMT’s learned how to do COVID19 testing; others in our industrial medicine division took the lead on temp checks for large employers; we created partnerships in our community that didn’t exist before.  Our Paramedics and EMTs in our 911 system took on new challenges of effectively treating and transporting these patients working with other responding agencies. Together we have learned to track how this virus spreads; to talk about how it is affecting everyone in all departments and most of all, together we continue to make plans knowing that the virus isn’t done with us.

The Metro West Ambulance, Inc. Leadership Perspective

” What sets us apart is that we  keep those we serve first and foremost believing that all communities no matter how small or how large deserve the best regarding mobile healthcare that includes emergency medical services, interfacility mobile healthcare and mobile integrated healthcare/community paramedicine models. Our people strive everyday to give their communities their best.”

J.D. Fuiten, Metro West Ambulance Services, Inc. , Owner/President

Frontline Voices from Metro West Ambulance, Inc.

“EMS is important because we are there to help people in need. It could be an emergency situation or a non-emergent trip the to the doctor. We care about people and the community and are here to serve.”—Rachael Koran, Operations Supervisor, EMT

“We in EMS are the best chance of survival many patients have when it comes to  sudden catastrophic injuries or illnesses. We’re not hesitant to step forward and do what needs to be done to care for those that need us.”—Jan Lee, Public Information Officer, Hospital Liaison, Paramedic

“When you have people who can no longer help themselves, we’re (EMS) the ones who are there to help them.”—Benjamin Maduell, Communications Center Floor Supervisor, EMT, EMD

How Metro West Ambulance, Inc. Celebrates EMS Week

In this  new era of social distancing, the celebrating is still on-just different.  We want our crews to know how important their work is;  what it means to the communities we serve to know that they are there for them;  and that most of all we value them knowing how hard this pandemic has been on them and their families.

We will be bringing a food cart to our main office with amazing Greek food instead of our traditional outdoor family party & BBQ.  We’ll have our crews text in their orders or pre-order them  for pickup allowing them to enjoy before or during or after shift- at their convenience.  This was our most popular food truck from the past.

Our cities will be doing EMS proclamations for us during their city council meetings that we can either Zoom into and they will also videotape it for us to play for our crews on screens in our crew room.  This will allow them to know that their communities support them.

We especially want to recognize them for the heroes they are….we’ll be setting out huge banners at our work sites with the messaging of “Heroes Work Here” . We’ll be doing social media blasting recognizing them all for what they do. We’ll be doing video messaging to them from our management and executive team thanking them for their service.

We want them all to know just how valued they are, how proud we are of them and how much they mean to all those around them.

40 Under 40: Jenn Ford (Mid-Valley Ambulance – Springfield, OR)

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.
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Jenn Ford
Manager
Mid-Valley Ambulance
Springfield, OR

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Nominated by: Shawn Baird (Metro West Ambulance – Hillsboro, OR)

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Biography:

Jenn started her career in EMS with Charleston Fire department as a volunteer. Soon afterward, Jenn decided to attend an in-house EMR class and received her First Responder certification. Jenn became interested in dispatching and was able to take a dispatching course in Coos Bay, OR. After becoming a Emergency Medical Dispatch certified dispatcher, Jenn began working with Bay Cities Ambulance.

In 2006 when the organization was acquired and there was a lot of transition with our leadership team, Jenn just naturally stepped up to fill the void. Jenn accepted the roll of Dispatch Manager but also accepted other duties to include managing the wheelchair department and becoming an essential part of senior leadership. Jenn also went on to receive her EMT certification.
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Reason for Nomination:

Jenn’s has a strong work ethic and unwavering commitment to her community. When the opportunity for growth presented itself, Jenn accepted the position of Operations Manager for our Eugene/Springfield operation and has led the organization during the process of becoming their own company. Jenn is a vital part of the Metro West family and well deserving of this honor.

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View all of the 2020 Mobile Healthcare 40 Under 40 Honorees

40 Under 40: Sabrina E. Riggs (Oregon State Ambulance Association – Lake Oswego, OR)

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.
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Sabrina E. Riggs
Lobbyist
Oregon State Ambulance Association
Lake Oswego, OR

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Nominated by: Shawn Baird
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Reason for Nomination

Sabrina is a lobbyist for the Oregon State Ambulance Association (OSAA). Sabrina has helped defeat a bill that would have disturbed the unbiased way that ambulance contracts are assigned. Sabarina successfully lobbied all sponsors to pull their name from the bill. After having GEMT denied for private providers, Sabrina worked with agency staff, stakeholders, and OSAA to find a viable alternative for private ambulance service providers. This Included conducting an in-depth survey of OSAA members, complicated formulas, and then drafting language, working with legislators, agency staff, and building coalitions. Sabrina also worked to kill and/or amend legislation that would create unnecessary cost burden on EMS providers.

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View all of the 2020 Mobile Healthcare 40 Under 40 Honorees

40 Under 40: Matthew Philbrick (Mercy Flights, Inc. – Medford, OR)

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.
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Matthew Philbrick
Medical Operations Manager
Mercy Flights, Inc.
Medford, OR

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LinkedIn
Nominated by: John Becknell (SafeTech Solutions, LLP.)
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Biography:

Matt Philbrick is a California native but has been living in Southern Oregon for over 11 years. Matt is a Paramedic and currently works as the Medical Operations Manager of the non-profit Mercy Flights. Matt started his career as a Paramedic over a decade ago with the desire to ‘help people in need’ and has continued that philosophy in his current position. Matt now, “takes care of the people that are taking care of our community” and finds great pleasure in helping responders have meaningful careers in Emergency Medical Services.

Matt’s career in EMS has taken him in several directions including Ski Patrol, Volunteer Firefighting, ground 9-1-1 ambulance care, and critical care flight medicine. At Mercy Flights, Matt has had the opportunity to grow as a both a clinician and a leader. In his current role, Matt helps plan organic growth for the company and also manages a dynamic operation. Currently Matt is heavily involved in Oregon State EMS committees including the State Trauma Advisory Board (STAB) and the Oregon EMS for Children’s (EMSC) committees. Matt is passionate about leadership and helping his staff maintain equanimity in both their professional and personal lives.

In his free time, Matt takes great pride in volunteering for local charities. Recently, Matt placed third in “Dancing with the Rogue Valley Stars”, a local ballroom dance competition. Matt and the other ‘Stars’ raised over $137,000 for a local charity, The Sparrow Clubs. When not at work, Matt focuses on his family. Matt is married to the love of his life Michelle, and they have two great children ages five and three. Matt and his family enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and fishing.

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Reason for Nomination:

Matt Philbrick is an exemplary leader and represents the future of EMS leadership for a new generation of EMS professionals. Matt’s ability to positively influence others and successfully lead a large team of professionals is a testimony to his abilities, character, insight, and skill. While Matt has a fine command of EMS operational and clinical excellence, he stands out because of his deep understanding of people, his ability to connect with employees of all ages and inspire them toward extraordinary achievement. Matt’s influence extends beyond his organization to participation, speaking, and teaching at state and national conferences.

Matt has responsibility for the day-to-day operations and clinical performance of a historic 70-year-old agency that provides 9-1-1 ground, roto-wing, and fixed-wing service. With more than 27,000 annual responses, Matt’s team of approximately 75 employees include Supervisors, EMTs, Paramedics, Nurses and Pilots. Matt’s focus is on creating a culture that employees love and building high dedication and engagement. During his time at Mercy Flights, a union was decertified and voted out by employees. Matt is currently developing a unique employee well-being program that goes beyond prevention and aids employees in making the very best of their work in EMS.

Matt’s approach to leadership begins by showing up with the best possible version of himself. Matt believes that his supervisors and staff deserve a leader who is authentic, genuine, and willing to grow. Relationships are the currency of Matt’s success, and he acknowledges that his team often knows what is best. Matt continuously seeks to listen, include, empower, inspire, and encourage. Matt clearly understands that EMS workers of the future expect organizations and leaders to create environments where respect, connection, and meaning are more than words and are nurtured in all aspects of the operation.

It is an honor to nominate Matt for this recognition. Matt represents the future of EMS and is a leader that will help the industry thrive in the coming decades.

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View all of the 2020 Mobile Healthcare 40 Under 40 Honorees

40 Under 40: Tom Krowkowski (Umpqua Valley Ambulance – Roseburg, OR)

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.
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Tom Krowkowski
Operations Manager
Umpqua Valley Ambulance
Roseburg, OR

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Nominated by: Shawn Baird (Metro West Ambulance – Hillsboro, OR)

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Biography:

Tom graduated from high school in Roseburg and went to Umpqua Community College while pursuing his associate degree in music. While studying, Tom was selected to participate in the “Umpqua Singers” and had the honor of traveling with them in 2006 while they traveled across county to deliver the “National Christmas Tree” to Washington, DC. During this trip they played approximately eight venues per day over 30 days. Once arriving in DC, Tom performed for Vice President Dick Cheney and numerous members of congress.

After receiving this associate degree, Tom went to work for Roseburg Forest Products work while learning to do all of the different tasks. While there, Tom had the opportunity to do a ride along with a close family friend who was a career firefighter with Douglas County Fire District #2. Tom was so intrigued after the ride along that while working graveyard shift, he went back to college and completed his EMT certification. Tom continued his education and received additional associate degrees in forensic science and paramedicine. After receiving his paramedic license, Tom went to work for DCFD #2.

In June 2016 DCFD #2 and Metro West Ambulance partnered to provide EMS services to some of Douglas County. In June 201,7 Tom was promoted to Shift Supervisor and stood out for his dedication and high moral standards. In November of 2018, Tom was promoted to Clinical Manager and Assistant Operations Manager.

Due to Tom’s work ethic and high standards he was promoted to Operations Manager and currently oversee’s all the different aspects of Umpqua Valley Ambulance.

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Reason for Nomination:

Umpqua Valley Ambulance is a relatively young, three year old company. Tom is rapidly taking on new responsibilities and his efforts are building a solid foundation for the future of the organization.

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View all of the 2020 Mobile Healthcare 40 Under 40 Honorees

Metro West Ambulance Services in 2020

Metro West Ambulance Services
Hillsboro, Oregon
930 Staff | 32 Quarantined in 2020

Metro West Ambulance Services, Inc. has a history rich in meeting the needs & caring for those we serve from very small rural communities to large urban areas. We’ve had great successes, marked many firsts in our industry, have been a part of the evolution of prehospital care over the decades. Founded in 1953, Metro West Ambulance Services, Inc. has grown to become a Family of Companies that includes Metro West Ambulance, Pacific West Ambulance, Medix Ambulance, Bay Cities Ambulance, Mid-Valley Ambulance, Umpqua Valley Ambulance & Woodburn Ambulance who are headquartered in Oregon & Del Norte Ambulance in Northern California. Our companies provide a variety of medical services and transportation levels. All are ALS 911 EMS & ALS/BLS Interfacility Mobile Healthcare providers. Our Family provides medical wheelchair transportation; Mobile Integrated Health (one of the largest programs in the country); ICU RN level Mobile Intensive Care Unit critical care transport team serving Oregon & Washington; Secure Transportation for behavioral health patients. We serve various population bases from 28,000 to over 600,000. We believe every community deserves the best in regards to EMS.

2020 has been the year where our Family of Companies have stood together & have been there for each other facing challenges that despite our decades of experience haven’t faced before. This year has taught us an even greater level of resiliency, tenacity, creativity & determination. We have & we are caring for & transporting critical and stable COVID-19 patients via every level of medical transportation we offer. We partnered to have our MIH crews care for patients in virtual hospitals at home. They’re now starting training to administer Remdesivir. Our state was hit by multiple devastating wildland fires. Our companies did on-site medical support; provided Emergency Medical Dispatching for large & ongoing fires; assisted in evacuating patients from 2 hospitals & helping other hospitals transfer patients; provided around the clock medical standbys caring for our partner fire agencies; assisted with level 3 evacuations to help evacuate non-mobile citizens and those exposed to the hazardous air quality. We assembled multiple COVID-19 testing teams from our companies needed for fire affected areas, homeless shelters, long term care facilities & our communities. All this together!

January Law Changes– OR, NJ, NY, NV

Oregon Pregnancy Accommodations Law

 

Following many other states, the new law prohibits employers from deny employment opportunities to applicants or employees who need reasonable accommodations due to or related to their pregnancy or childbirth. 

New Jersey Pay Inquiry Restrictions

 

This law prohibits screening candidates based upon an applicant’s prior wage history. It is also illegal to establish a job candidate’s salary or benefits compensation based upon their prior salary or wage history.

New York Pay Inquiry Restrictions

 

This law prohibits all employers from inquiring about a job candidate’s wage history or relying on prior wage levels in establishing compensation or benefits.

Nevada Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Restrictions

 

This law exempts employees who are firefighters, EMTs or who operate motor vehicles during the course of their duties.  While this would eliminate many positions within an EMS agency.  EMS employers who are not Federal Contractors or Grantees, need to heed these restrictions for those positions within their organization that do not fit into one of the exempt positions below.

July Brings Legal Changes for Employers in Many States

Oregon Statewide Transit Tax

Important notice to ambulance service employers based in the state of Oregon: there is a new statewide transit tax taking effect on July 1, 2018. Beginning July 1st, employers must start withholding a tax of 1/10th of 1% from the wages of Oregon residents or from non-residents who perform services in Oregon. The Department of Revenue has published detailed information on the statewide tax with a list of available resources to assist employers with compliance.

Iowa Lowers Standard for Positive Alcohol Tests

Effective July 1, 2018, Iowa employers may lower their standard for taking employment action for positive alcohol tests from the old state standard of .04 to .02. Iowa has one of the strictest employment drug and alcohol testing requirements in the country. Employers are required to have a written policy that is distributed to all employees and job candidates for their review. Employers must establish a drug and alcohol awareness program alerting employees of the dangers of drug and alcohol use in the workplace, and most employees must be provided an option to enter a rehabilitation program instead of being disciplined. In addition, all supervisory staff must attend a two-hour initial drug and alcohol training and a one-hour annual refresher.

Rhode Island Paid Sick Leave

Rhode Island has followed a growing list of states and municipalities that have enacted paid sick leave for employers with 18 or more employees. In October, the Health and Safe Families and Workplaces Act was signed by Governor Gina Raimondo. The new paid sick leave law takes effect July 1, 2018. Under the new law, employees will accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours worked, up to a maximum of 24 hours in a calendar year in 2018. That rate will increase to 32 hours in 2019 and 40 hours in 2020.

Under the new law, employers must allow employees to use paid sick time for the employee’s or employee’s family members illness, injury, or health condition; when the employee’s workplace or child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency; or for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers cannot take adverse employment action against employees utilizing leave under this Act.

Employers need to prepare by amending any relevant paid time off policies, ensuring that there is an adequate mechanism for tracking the accrual and use of paid sick leave, and educating all management staff on the provisions of the new paid sick time law to ensure compliance. The new Sick Time Regulations provide additional compliance guidance.

Pay History Inquiries

Effective July 1, 2018, a new law in Vermont prohibits employers from making salary history inquiries from job candidates. Vermont joins several other states and municipalities that have enacted pay equity measures.

Joining the State of Vermont, the City of San Francisco has enacted a ban on asking job applicants about their salary or pay histories. The Parity in Pay Ordinance, signed by May Ed Lee, takes effect on July 1, 2018. The Ordinance bans employers, including City contractors and subcontractors, from considering current or past salaries in hiring candidates for employment. In addition, the Ordinance prohibits employers from asking job applicants about pay history or disclosing a current or former employee’s salary history without their authorization. A statewide ban on asking applicants about their pay histories took effect this past January.

It is recommended that employers in all states, whether legally prohibited or not, remove any reference on their job applications to an employee’s current or past wage/salary. In addition, employers should amend their pre-hire process to eliminate any pay history inquiries. This will provide employers with the best protections against allegations of pay discrimination claims.

Massachusetts Pay Equity

Back in August, 2016, Governor Baker signed An Act to Establish Pay Equity (MEPA) which takes effect on July 1, 2018. The new law is aimed at ending discrimination in the workplace by ensuring that individuals who perform “comparable” work earn competitive salaries. Additionally, the bill prohibits employers from making salary or wage history inquiries with job candidates and provides protections for employees to freely discuss their salaries with other employees.

The new law is aimed at preventing the perpetuation of past employer discriminatory pay practices by prohibiting the employer from basing a salary decision on the candidate’s current or past salary. Employers need to ensure that there are no inquiries on their employment applications or requested during the pre-hire process. Additionally, employers should amend any policies and procedures that might discourage employee discussions about wages.

Lastly, employers should perform a pay equity audit to identify potential wage disparities that may exist in their workplace. Employers who perform a good-faith, reasonable self-evaluation to identify pay disparities will be able to assert an affirmative defense to claims of violations of the Act. The Massachusetts Attorney General has issued guidance and a pay equity toolkit to assist employers with compliance.

California Expands National Origin Discrimination Protections

Effective July 1, 2018, amendments to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) will expand the national origins protections for employer discriminatory practices for applicants and employees to include:

  1. physical, cultural, or linguistics characteristics associated with a national origin group;
  2. marriage to or association with persons of a national origin group;
  3. tribal affiliation;
  4. membership in, or in association with, an organization identified with or seeking to promote the interests of a national origin group;
  5. attendance or participation in schools, churches, temples, mosques, or other religious institutions generally used by persons of a national origin group; and
  6. name that is associated with a national origin group

The Regulations provide protections that include prohibitions on employees adopting “English only” language rules in the workplace, unless the restriction is justified by business necessity, narrowly tailored, and was meaningfully communicated to employees. Discrimination based on an employee’s accent, height and weight (unless job-related and consistent with business necessity), and immigration status.

2018 OSHA Electronic Injury Reporting Deadline

Last year we notified AAA members that they must begin electronically reporting their workplace injury data to OSHA starting December 1, 2017 for 2016. This is just a reminder to all employers that they must electronically report their 2017 workplace injury data through the OSHA Injury Tracking Application (ITA) no later than July 1, 2018. Previously, for employers who had state-level work injury provisions, OSHA did not require injury reporting until the state enacted the appropriate tools to collect the injury data. This has changed, as OSHA announced on April 30, 2018 that employers in states that have not completed the adoption of a state rule yet must also report their 2017 injury data through the OSHA ITA. If any member has not set up their account with OSHA on the ITA, we strongly suggest that you do so immediately. The AAA can assist members in ensuring that they are compliant with this reporting requirement.

Georgia Hands Free Law

Georgia has enacted the Hands-Free Georgia Act (House Bill 673) which becomes effective July 1, 2018. The law makes it illegal for all motor vehicle drivers to “physically hold or support, with any part of his/her body” a wireless device. In addition, drivers are prohibited from writing, sending, or reading any text-based communications, including instant messages, email, or internet data usage. The law requires that a driver utilize an earpiece or hands-free device for all purposes while driving and may not touch their device. This includes utilizing any device for navigational purposes, even while stopped at a traffic signal.

There are exceptions to the new law for reporting traffic accidents: medical emergencies, fires, criminal activity, or hazardous road conditions. The exceptions do include first responders, including EMS agencies during the performance of their official duties. I believe that it is important for agencies to provide very clear communications regarding mobile device usage. I strongly suggest that any employee guidance states that the use of hand-held devices be limited to what is required to facilitate or affect patient care. It is recommended that when the use of a device is necessary, the technician or dispatcher make the notification, provided it does not interfere with monitoring or providing direct care to the patient. For more information or guidance visit the Heads Up Georgia website.

South Dakota Data Breach Law

South Dakota has enacted a new Data Breach Notification Law (SB62) for any entity conducting business in South Dakota that has or retains computerized personal or protected information of South Dakota residents. The law has a very broad definition of personal information and includes “social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card or financial information, health information, identification numbers assigned by an employer for authentication purposes, username or email addresses with passwords, security questions, etc.”

The breach notification obligation attaches when the information holder reasonably believes that personal or protected information has been acquired by an unauthorized person. The law states that they must notify the affected individual within 60 days. Breaches affecting 250 or more individuals must also be reported to the South Dakota Attorney General. If the information holder reasonably believes that the breach will not likely result in harm to the affected individual, no disclosure is necessary provided they investigate and maintain documentation of the investigation for at least three years. Employers should review their data privacy policies and practices to ensure they comply with the new law.

Vermont Recreational Marijuana

Starting July 1, 2018, the State of Vermont has legalized recreational marijuana under a measure passed by the Vermont legislature (H.B. 511). The new law permits residents to grow and possesses up to one ounce of marijuana without facing criminal penalties. This law does not prohibit employers from having policies that prohibit marijuana use. The law also provides that employers do not have to accommodate the use or transportation of marijuana in the workplace. However, employers are advised to review their current workplace drug policies and practices to ensure that their practices are consistent with the new state law.

Vermont has a long-standing prohibition of random drug testing of employees, except when required or permitted under Federal law. Under Federal law, Federal contractors and grantees must maintain a drug-free workplace under the Drug Free Workplace Act. It is important that employers seek legal consultation if an employee notifies the employer that they are using marijuana for a condition that might qualify as a “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Vermont Attorney General has published a Guide to Vermont’s Laws on Marijuana in the Workplace to assist employers with compliance.

Update on Medicare Reimbursement Issues

The AAA would like to take this opportunity to update members on a number of issues related to Medicare reimbursement:

  1. CMS and its contractors have begun adjusting claims for ground ambulance services to reflect the restoration of the temporary add-ons. Section 50203(a) of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 retroactively reinstated the temporary add-ons for ground ambulance services. These add-ons increase the applicable Medicare allowables by 2% in urban areas, 3% in rural areas, and 22.6% in “super rural” areas (over and above the corresponding rural rate), retroactive to January 1, 2018. On a March 7, 2018 Open Door Forum, CMS indicated that it had updated the Medicare Ambulance fee schedule to reflect these higher rates, and that it has provided a Change Request to each of its Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs). The AAA has confirmed that all MACs have successfully implemented the new rates, and that all are paying current claims at the correct rate. The AAA has further confirmed that MACs have started to adjust 2018 claims paid at the original (lower) rates. Unfortunately, neither CMS nor its MACs have committed to a firm timetable for the completion of all required adjustments; however, a number of MACs have indicated that they anticipate completing all required adjustments by the end of the second quarter of 2018.
  1. Further reduction in Medicare’s payment for non-emergency BLS transports to and from dialysis. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 further required CMS to implement an additional 13% reduction in Medicare’s payment for scheduled, non-emergency BLS transports to and from dialysis. This reduction is on top of the existing 10% payment reduction. Collectively, this means that dialysis transports will be reimbursed at a rate that is 23% less than the rate that would otherwise be applicable to BLS non-emergency transports in your area. The AAA. is reminding members that this additional reduction in payments will go into effect for transports on or after October 1, 2018.
  1. CMS has updated its SNF Consolidated Billing file to resolve the error that resulted in certain ambulance claims being incorrectly denied as being the responsibility of the SNF. Each year, CMS updates the SNF Consolidated Billing file provided to MACs. This file contains several lists of Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes, and provides instructions to the MACs on whether these codes: (i) should be accepted for separate payment under Medicare Part B or (ii) should always be denied for inclusion in the SNF Consolidated Billing system. Ambulance HCPCS codes (A0425, A0426, A0427, etc.) have always been included in the first list, as the issue of whether an ambulance transportation is bundled to the SNF is conditioned on the nature of the services that the patient will receive at the destination. To the extent the service the patient will receive at the destination is bundled, the ambulance services to and from that service will also be bundled, and vice versa. Note: there are two exceptions to this general rule. The first is that ambulance transportation to and from dialysis is specifically exempted from the SNF Consolidated Billing regime, and therefore will always be separately billable to Medicare Part B. The second exception relates to the provision of chemotherapy services furnished on an outpatient basis in a hospital. Chemotherapy services are generally bundled to the SNF; however, several years ago, Congress elected to exempt a number of particularly expensive forms of chemotherapy from the SNF bundle. In these instances, while the SNF is not responsible for the payment of the expensive chemotherapy, the SNF remains responsible for payment of the ambulance transportation to and from the hospital. Because ambulance codes may or may not be bundled to the SNF based on the nature of the transport, they are not automatically denied. Instead, the MACs are supposed to use further edits to identify those situations in which the ambulance transport would be bundled vs. separately payable. Unfortunately, in its 2018 update, CMS inadvertently left the ambulance HCPCS codes off the list of codes that are not automatically denied as being bundled to the SNF.  As a result, ambulance providers have indicated that claims were being denied using remark code “OA109.”  In some cases, claims for dates of service in 2016 or 2017 that were previously paid were being recouped. CMS recognized its error fairly quickly, and updated the SNF Consolidated Billing file in mid-February. All MACs were provided with updated instructions by February 27, 2018. Therefore, the issue has been resolved for current claims. What remains to be resolved is how CMS and its MACs will adjust or reprocess claims that were incorrectly denied. Several MACs have notified providers of the issue, and asked that they refrain from appealing the claims. These MACs are indicating that they will automatically adjust/reprocess affected claims. In other instances, the MACs have asked the providers to make a refund of affected claims that were previously paid, promising to then reprocess the entire claim. The AAA is advising members to carefully track the claims that were affected by this mistake, and to follow the instructions issued by their MAC for ensuring their reprocessing.
  1. CMS has delayed the mailing new ID cards to all Medicare beneficiaries. As part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, Congress mandated that CMS remove a beneficiary’s social security number (SSN) from their Medicare ID card by April 2019. As part of this initiative, CMS will be replacing the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) with the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). CMS has already started mailing cards with the MBI to newly enrolling Medicare beneficiaries. CMS originally announced that it would be mailing new cards to existing Medicare beneficiaries starting in April 2018, but recently indicated that it would delay the mailing of new cards to existing Medicare beneficiaries until May 2018. From May to June, CMS will mail new cards to existing Medicare beneficiaries residing in Alaska, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The mailing program will then be extended to additional states in 5 “waves” over the coming year. To the extent you provide services in the above-mentioned states, you may want to educate crewmembers and other employees on the differences between the HICN and the MBI. You may want to also consider updating your existing patient databases to include the new identifier. As a reminder, CMS will permit claims to be submitted with either the HICN or the MBI during a transition period running through December 31, 2019.  Effective January 1, 2020, claims must be submitted with a patient’s MBI. This requirement applies regardless of whether the date of service occurred prior to the expiration of the transition period.
  1. Extension of prior authorization project for scheduled, repetitive transports. In December 2017, CMS indicated that it would be extending the prior authorization program for an additional year. This program is currently in place for the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The extension of the program is limited to those states. CMS has further indicated that it will be making a determination on possible national expansion at some point in the near future. CMS recently released its first interim report on the prior authorization program. As expected, that report indicated that prior authorization has been successful in reducing Medicare expenditures on scheduled, repetitive transports, without any material impact on beneficiary access to and quality of care.

Have any questions about these updates? Contact Brian Werfel at bwerfel@aol.com

Congrats to CAAS Accreditations & Recerts

Congratulations to the AAA members who received Commission on the Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) accreditation or reaccreditation in November and December!

New certifications

  • Superior Air-Ground Ambulance (Elmhurst, IL)

Recertifications

  • Ambucare (Bremen, GA)
  • American Medical Response Central Mississippi (Jackson, MS)
  • American Medical Response, Los Angeles (Irwindale, CA)
  • American Medical Response, San Diego (San Diego, CA)
  • American Medical Response of West Michigan (Grand Rapids, MI)
  • American Medical Response South Mississippi (Gulfport, MS)
  • Lifeguard Ambulance Service (Milton, FL)
  • Metro West Ambulance (Hillsboro, OR)
  • Richmond Ambulance Authority (Richmond, VA)

2017 Distinguished Service Award

Contact: Jessica Marvin
Telephone: 703-610-9018
Email: jmarvin@ambulance.org

AMERICAN AMBULANCE ASSOCIATION HONORS JAMIE PAFFORD-GRESHAM AND SHAWN BAIRD WITH THE 2017 DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD

Washington, DC– McLean, VA — The American Ambulance Association (AAA) is proud to award Jamie Pafford-Gresham and Shawn Baird with the 2017 Distinguished Service Awards.

The Distinguished Service Award is given to individuals who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to the advancement of the AAA. Jamie and Shawn have achieved this distinction through their dedication, passion, and commitment in support of AAA’s Legislative Priorities.

AAA President Mark Postma noted, “Jamie and Shawn have been steadfast in their service on behalf of the AAA. We are proud to celebrate their contributions and achievements to the AAA and our industry by presenting them with Distinguished Service Awards for 2017.”

Shawn and Jamie will be presented with the Distinguished Service Award at the AAA Annual Conference and Tradeshow Awards Reception on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. This event is the premier event for leaders in the ambulance industry, featuring world-class education, networking, and cutting-edge technology.

# # #

About the American Ambulance Association
Founded in 1979, the AAA represents hundreds of ambulance services across the United States that participate in emergency and non-emergency care and medical transportation. The Association serves as a voice and clearinghouse for ambulance services, and views prehospital care not only as a public service, but also as an essential part of the total public health care system.

AAA Mission Statement
The mission of the American Ambulance Association is to promote health care policies that ensure excellence in the ambulance services industry and provide research, education, and communications programs to enable its members to effectively address the needs of the communities they serve.

2017 AAA Award Winners Announced

The American Ambulance Association is proud to announce this year’s award winners. Awards will be presented at the AAA Annual Conference & Trade Show Membership Meeting on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners!

J. Walter Schaeffer Award

Mark Meijer, Life EMS Ambulance
The J. Walter Schaeffer Award is given annually to an individual whose work in EMS has contributed positively to the advancement of the industry as a whole. Mark Meijer has achieved this through his many years of commitment and service to the ambulance industry.

Robert L. Forbuss Lifetime Achievement Award

Fred Della Valle, AMR Connecticut
The Robert L. Forbuss Lifetime Achievement Award is named in honor of the first Executive Director of the American Ambulance Association. It recognizes a volunteer leader who has made a significant long-term impact on the association. Fred Della Valle has achieved this through his decades of service, commitment, and dedication to the AAA and its members.

President’s Award

Dr. John Russell, Cape County Private Ambulance
Paul Main, American Ambulance of Visalia
These awards are bestowed by the President to volunteer leaders who have shown commitment to the advancement of the AAA above and beyond the call of duty. This year, the two outstanding volunteers represent tireless work on behalf of the AAA. Dr. Russell is recognized for his ongoing support of AAA’s programs and leadership on clinical and ambulance service standards. Paul Main has achieved this honor for his dedication and service to AAA’s Government Affairs efforts.

Distinguished Service Award

Jamie Pafford-Gresham, Pafford EMS
Shawn Baird, Woodburn Ambulance Service
The American Ambulance Association is proud to award Jamie Pafford-Gresham and Shawn Baird with the 2017 Distinguished Service Awards. Jamie Pafford-Gresham and Shawn Baird have achieved this distinction through their dedication, passion, and commitment in support of AAA’s Legislative Priorities.

2017 Affiliate of the Year

REV
The American Ambulance Association (AAA) is proud to award REV with the 2017 Affiliate of the Year Award. REV has achieved this honor through their support of AAA’s programs and services including our 2017 Legislative Priorities.

EMS Partnership of the Year

James D. Green
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The EMS Partnership of the Year Award is given to an organization or individual whose collaboration with the AAA enhances educational programs, legislative priorities, and/or member benefits. James D. Green and NIOSH have achieved this honor through their commitment to ambulance vehicle and personnel safety standards.

EMS Innovation Award

Savvik Foundation
Savvik Foundation is honored with a special EMS Innovation Award for its commitment to supporting the future of emergency medical services through their grant program.

Congressman Greg Walden to Receive AAA Legislative Honor

Congressman Greg Walden to
Receive AAA Legislative Recognition Award

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Amanda Riordan
ariordan@ambulance.org
703-610-0264

Washington, DC, – The American Ambulance Association (AAA) will honor Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon with a Legislative Recognition Award in appreciation of his advocacy for emergency medical services.

Congressman Walden will be presented this award in June in Washington, DC by AAA’s Oregon Stars of Life—EMS personnel selected for their excellence and dedication. This year’s Stars from the Beaver State are Harlan Brock, Theresa “Trese” Helstowski, Jennel Smith, Melissa Zimmer of Metro West Ambulance, Sheryl Maia of American Medical Response, Padrick O’Grady and James Wilcott of Bay Cities Ambulance, Bob Johnson of Medix Ambulance, and Aaron Pawol of Mercy Flights.

Congressman Walden was selected for the Legislative Recognition Award for championing the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act which would make permanent the current temporary Medicare ambulance add-on increases of 2% urban and 3% urban and the super rural bonus payment. The legislation, H.R. 745 from the 114th Congress, would also treat ambulance services more like providers of health care services and require CMS to collect cost data utilizing a methodology that would result in usable information for future reform of the Medicare ambulance fee schedule.

AAA President Mark Postma notes, “Congressman Walden has been a trusted advocate for health care and emergency medical services, both in Oregon and across our country.”

Congressman Walden has represented Oregon’s 2nd congressional district since 1999. He is the current Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In appreciation of his ongoing service to the ambulance services of the United States, AAA is proud to honor Congressman Walden with a Legislative Recognition Award.

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About the American Ambulance Association

Founded in 1979, the AAA represents hundreds of ambulance services across the United States that participate in emergency and nonemergency care and medical transportation. The Association serves as a voice and clearinghouse for ambulance services, and views prehospital care not only as a public service, but also as an essential part of the total public health care system.

AAA Stars of Life

The Stars of Life program celebrates the contributions of ambulance professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to their communities or the EMS profession. Stars of Life honors the dedication of these heroes while shining light on the critical role EMS plays in our healthcare infrastructure. This year, 101 EMS professionals will be honored as the 2017 Stars of Life. Meet the stars at www.stars.ambulance.org.

AAA Mission Statement

The mission of the American Ambulance Association is to promote health care policies that ensure excellence in the ambulance services industry and provide research, education, and communications programs to enable its members to effectively address the needs of the communities they serve.

Senator Ron Wyden Receives AAA Legislative Honor

Senator Ron Wyden Receives
2017 AAA Legislative Recognition Award

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Amanda Riordan
ariordan@ambulance.org
703-610-0264

Washington, DC – The American Ambulance Association (AAA) will honor Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon with a Legislative Recognition Award in appreciation of his advocacy for emergency medical services.

Senator Wyden will be presented this award in June in Washington, DC by AAA’s Oregon Stars of Life—EMS personnel selected for their excellence and dedication. This year’s Stars from the Beaver State are Harlan Brock, Theresa Helstowski, and Melissa Zimmer of Metro West Ambulance, Sheryl Maia of American Medical Response, Padrick O’Grady and James Wilcott of Bay Cities Ambulance, Bob Johnson of Medix Ambulance, and Aaron Pawol of Mercy Flights.

Senator Wyden was selected for the Legislative Recognition Award for his leadership on health care issues and support of the Medicare temporary ambulance add-on payments, and a system for collecting ambulance cost data utilizing a methodology that would likely result in usable information.

AAA President Mark Postma notes, “Senator Wyden is a trusted advocate for health care and emergency medical services, both in Oregon and across our country. The AAA is proud to present him with a Legislative Recognition Award.”

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, Senator Wyden is the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee. He also serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Budget Committee, Select Committee on Intelligence, and Joint Committee on Taxation.

# # #

About the American Ambulance Association

Founded in 1979, the AAA represents hundreds of ambulance services across the United States that participate in emergency and nonemergency care and medical transportation. The Association serves as a voice and clearinghouse for ambulance services, and views prehospital care not only as a public service, but also as an essential part of the total public health care system.

AAA Stars of Life

The Stars of Life program celebrates the contributions of ambulance professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to their communities or the EMS profession. Stars of Life honors the dedication of these heroes while shining light on the critical role EMS plays in our healthcare infrastructure. This year, 101 EMS professionals will be honored as the 2017 Stars of Life. Meet the stars at www.stars.ambulance.org.

AAA Mission Statement

The mission of the American Ambulance Association is to promote health care policies that ensure excellence in the ambulance services industry and provide research, education, and communications programs to enable its members to effectively address the needs of the communities they serve.

Senator Roberts Receives Legislative Recognition Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact
Amanda Riordan
703-610-9018
ariordan@ambulance.org

KEMSA, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), AAA Treasurer Shawn Baird
KEMSA, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), AAA Treasurer Shawn Baird

Washington, D.C.– The American Ambulance Association (AAA) has selected Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas as recipient of an AAA Legislative Recognition Award in honor of his strong advocacy for emergency medical services. Senator Roberts received his award during EMS on the Hill Day events on April 25.

AAA President Mark Postma notes, “We would like to thank Senator Roberts for his commitment to sustainable reimbursement for ambulance services in Kansas and across our nation.”

Senator Roberts was recognized for championing the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act, which would make permanent the current temporary Medicare ambulance add-on increases and the super rural bonus payment. The legislation would also treat ambulance services more like providers of health care services, and require CMS to collect cost data utilizing a methodology that would likely result in usable information and not be an unnecessary burden on rural ambulance services.

Senator Roberts was presented the award by Brandon Beck, President of the Kansas EMS Association (KEMSA), and other KEMSA representatives as well as Shawn Baird of Woodburn Ambulance (OR) AAA Treasurer and Vice Chair of the AAA Government Affairs Committee.

In appreciation of his ongoing service to the ambulance services of the United States, AAA is proud to honor Senator Roberts with a Legislative Recognition Award.

# # #

About the American Ambulance Association

Founded in 1979, the AAA represents hundreds of ambulance services across the United States that participate in emergency and nonemergency care and medical transportation. The Association serves as a voice and clearinghouse for ambulance services, and views prehospital care not only as a public service, but also as an essential part of the total public health care system.

AAA Mission Statement

The mission of the American Ambulance Association is to promote health care policies that ensure excellence in the ambulance services industry and provide research, education, and communications programs to enable its members to effectively address the needs of the communities they serve.

2017 AAA Legislative Awards

The American Ambulance Association is proud to announce the winners of the 2017 AAA Legislative Awards, in recognition of their strong advocacy for emergency medical services. Each legislator was chosen for their ongoing service to the ambulance services of the United States.

2017 AAA Legislator of the Year

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) – Press Release, Facebook Post, Twitter Post

2017 AAA Legislative Recognition Award Recipients

Senators

Representatives

2016 AMBY Best Public Relations Campaign: EMSA, CPR Education Program

Congratulations to the 2016 AMBY Award Winners

Each year, the American Ambulance Association honors best practices, ingenuity, and innovation from EMS providers across the country with our AMBY Awards. 

EMSA CPR Education Program Awarded a 2016 AMBY for Best Public Relations Campaign

Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) | Tulsa, Oklahoma

amby-congrats-emsaEMSA, the Emergency Medical Services Authority, is Oklahoma’s largest provider of pre-hospital emergency medical care. We provide ambulance service to more than 1.1 million residents in central and northeast Oklahoma. EMSA was established in Tulsa in 1977 and later expanded to include Bixby, Jenks and Sand Springs. EMSA began providing service to Oklahoma City in 1990. EMSA is the ambulance provider in 16 cities across the state. As a public trust authority of the City of Tulsa and City of Oklahoma City governments, EMSA is charged with ensuring the highest quality of emergency medical service at the best possible price. There are several entities that work together in the EMSA system, including the Cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the medical director, and the contracted ambulance provider. EMSA oversees all business aspects including ambulances and other capital equipment, maintaining patient records, billing and more. The medical director conducts routine audits and testing of all medics practicing in the system, writes seamless protocols to ensure the continuity of care between first responders and transport medics, researches new treatment modalities and evaluates complaints. EMSA is committed to training and building awareness about CPR in EMSA’s 16 service areas. The program includes a variety of year-round opportunities to learn Hands-Only CPR(TM), as well as leveraging various opportunities to promote CPR education through traditional earned media, digital advertising, and social media. Also, EMSA medics were part of a national challenge to train as many local citizens as possible in Hands-Only CPR, called World CPR Day.

The CPR Education Program had one ultimate goal which was to increase the number of Oklahoma citizens who can effectively do CPR statewide (mostly Hands-Only CPR). The secondary goal was to connect the message of health care expertise and community involvement with EMSA, as an organization, by providing non-emergency interactions with EMSA medics and promoting CPR-related stories in earned media and digital platforms. Two measurable objectives were identified for the CPR Education Program.

Primary Objective

The first objective was to train more than 2,000 Oklahomans on how to conduct Hands-Only CPR on World CPR Day and 10,000 at the Tulsa State Fair and Oklahoma City State Fair. The second specific objective was to utilize earned media, social media, events and public figures to educate the community that EMSA is their CPR resource for training.

For many years EMSA, along with its 16 partnering first-responder agencies, achieved a heart attack survival rate six times higher than the national average. Recognizing that bystander response times were integrated into this health outcome, EMSA noted an opportunity to magnify and improve these successful numbers. The heart attack survival rate results are based on patients in cardiac arrest who received some form of bystander CPR and were found in a shockable rhythm (an ECG rhythm that is treatable using defibrillation) on first EMS contact.

Secondary Objective

The American Heart Association Research The American Heart Association conducts numerous studies on the impact of bystander CPR. These studies prove that during cardiac arrest a person’s survival chance increases significantly with immediate CPR, that CPR can be taught in a very short amount of time, and that compression-only CPR is effective for saving lives. When paramedics arrive on-scene, a patient who is in cardiac arrest and is found in a shockable rhythm (an ECG rhythm that is treatable using defibrillation) is more likely to survive if they receive some form of bystander CPR. The impact of bystander CPR has improved significantly in the past decade. In 2010, the AMR bystander CPR rate was 21.4 percent and in 2014 it increased to 40.8 percent.

Every five years, EMSA conducts a citizen survey to review the perception of services. The most recent report (2012) shows 80 percent of people who use EMSA have a positive impression. Additionally, the public responds extremely favorably to medics and paramedics; however, most people don’t meet a medic until they’re experiencing a medical emergency. Utilizing this information EMSA expanded its public events to put medics in front of potential patients more regularly — before they experience an emergency. Although the CPR Campaign primarily focuses on health-outcomes related to cardiac arrest, a secondary benefit is providing one-on-one opportunities for the general public to spend with EMSA medics, allowing those without ambulance-experience to see first-hand the caring and compassionate men and women who work at EMSA.

In order to build community awareness around the health impact of knowing CPR, EMSA focused on two general audiences: the first included citizens of EMSA’s service area without Hands-Only CPR training, the second group was the opinion leaders. The opinion leaders with the highest stakes for improving health outcomes on a statewide basis were determined to be elected officials.

EMSA has conducted CPR training throughout the community for decades. EMSA also partners with other CPR-certification agencies to increase access to CPR education. For the past three years, EMSA has organized an annual special event to train a large number of citizens in Hands-Only CPR and also communicate the importance of learning CPR. In addition, EMSA provides stand-by ambulances at the Oklahoma State Tulsa State fair annually; during the fair EMSA utilizes an informational booth space to provide citizens with an opportunity to learn CPR.

The CPR Education Program consisted of three key areas. The first was participation in large-scale events that provide an opportunity for training a large number of people (World CPR Day and the two State Fairs). These larger events would be used as a catalyst. The second area was building awareness that EMSA offers CPR training, both Hands-Only and traditional CPR, to the general public within their service area. The final area was recruiting a prominent Oklahoman to participate in a CPR training in order to maximize attention to the importance of CPR training for all individuals. All of the focus areas, and the message that CPR saves lives, were promoted through traditional earned media, advertising, and social engagement.

Large-Scale Training Events

World CPR Day is organized on a national level by AMR and on a local level by EMSA. Each year the EMSA communications team strategically identifies partnership events and organizations to bring Hands-Only CPR in front of Tulsa and Oklahoma City-area citizens. There are many options annually because the wide audience-base includes all individuals in EMSA’s service area without Hands-Only CPR training. EMSA hosted CPR trainings throughout coverage areas utilizing ongoing events at businesses and organizations, such as the business board meetings. Some trainings were private and others were public events. Utilizing earned media and social media, World CPR Day was heavily promoted and resulted in strong participation. Reviewing the World CPR date and community events we noticed the two largest events that could incorporate CPR training were the Big 12 Baseball tournament and the Dallas Cowboys Mobile Museum. These two events were slated to attract large crowds of active Tulsans ideal for learning Hands-Only CPR. EMSA worked alongside the Tulsa Regional Chamber to coordinate a training site at Fan Fest, the fair-like celebration that runs concurrently during the Big 12 Baseball Tournaments. EMSA also had the Dallas Cowboys mobile museum for their evening sessions at LaFortune Park. In addition to the large public trainings, EMSA hosted smaller CPR trainings throughout our coverage areas utilizing ongoing events at area businesses and organizations, such as the Jenks Chamber of Commerce Board Meeting. The largest private training was at Roosevelt Middle School in Oklahoma City where EMSA trained more than 600 students. The Tulsa and Oklahoma City State Fairs provide easy-access to large groups of Oklahoma residents who are eager to learn CPR in order to save a life. Although the location and interaction opportunities are optimal, medics do use key message points, such as “It’s most likely a loved one’s life you’ll save,” to encourage passers-by to participate in the training. Thousands of individuals learned Hands-Only CPR at the state fairs last year. CPR Training Requests EMSA generally receives 30 requests per year to train small groups on how to perform CPR. These are businesses and organizations, as well as teams and non-profits. During the CPR Education Program, EMSA promoted CPR training through all owned mediums including its website and social channels. After promoting World CPR Day and the importance of learning Hands-Only CPR, EMSA inquiries for trainings increased by almost 25 percent. Most of the new requests came from government officials or civic-related organizations, which are targeted groups because their circle of influence is generally larger than other groups.

Training High-Profile Oklahoman in Hands-Only CPR

EMSA individuals researched prominent Oklahomans to find who fit with EMSA’s mission and goals. We needed individuals that would create a buzz online and in traditional media. After considering various famous individuals we determined that elected officials were the most inclined to be concerned with the overall health and well-being of Oklahomans. We set our goals high, and invited the Governor to learn Hands-Only CPR. Additionally, we sent requests to various local elected officials to offer a CPR class during a City Council meeting. We were pleased that Oklahoma’s Governor Mary Fallin, the Tulsa City Council and Oklahoma City Council accepted our invitations, and in three separate events, they learned the steps to save a life through CPR. The events created a stir in local newspapers and TV while also creating engagement online through our EMSA social channels and other digital news sources. Promotion EMSA promoted World CPR Day, CPR trainings, and the elected-officials training events throughout the year. Additionally, EMSA hosted several in-studio CPR demonstrations at Oklahoma City and Tulsa media stations. Another media component was promoting feature stories on patients that survive because of CPR. The final promotional component was a digital ad campaign that are PSAs about the three C’s of CPR: check, call, and compress.

See measurable outcomes below; additionally review work samples to view social media samples, earned media samples and more.

  • Measurable Objective: train 2,000 attendees how to do Hands-Only CPR on World CPR Day. Result: Trained 2,585 people 1,201 in Tulsa and 1,384 in OKC Measureable Objective: train 10,000 attendees how to do Hands-only CPR at the two Oklahoma State Fairs. Result: Trained more than 10,000 people at the Tulsa State and Oklahoma State Fairs.
  • Measurable Objective: Utilize social media to increase awareness of World CPR Day Result: More than 20,000 unique social media impressions for various social media posts promoting and celebrating World CPR Day.
  • Measurable Objective: Utilize earned media, social media and World CPR Day to educate the community that EMSA is their CPR resource for training.
  • Result: Following World CPR Day EMSA was contacted by several community groups wanting EMSA medics to teach Hands-Only CPR at their monthly meetings. Additionally, EMSA gained a lot of media coverage and social media activity due to the high-visibility leadership participating in Hands-Only CPR.

The overall impact of the ongoing EMSA CPR program continues to increase the number of Oklahoma residents who can perform CPR. This ultimately affects improved health outcomes. Additionally, this campaign provides one-on-one time with medics which produces a familiarity with the ambulance authority that will provide long-term mutually beneficial outcomes.

Congratulations to EMSA for the CPR Education Program’s selection as a 2016 AMBY Winner for Best Public Relations Campaign.

 

2016 AMBY Best Community Impact Program: AMR, River Rescue Program

Congratulations to the 2016 AMBY Award Winners

Each year, the American Ambulance Association honors best practices, ingenuity, and innovation from EMS providers across the country with our AMBY Awards. 

American Medical Response River Rescue Program Awarded a 2016 AMBY for Best Community Impact Program

amby-2016-congrats-amrAMR | Oregon

The Oregon River Safety Program (aka AMR River Rescue Program) is provided by American Medical Response (AMR) as a community service for two communities it serves in Oregon. The program is the only one of its kind exclusively operated by a private EMS provider, supported by strong community partnerships, and was developed after a series of thirteen drowning deaths over five years in the 1990s at two popular river parks. Ten years earlier, AMR developed its Reach and Treat (RAT) Wilderness Medicine Program to provide medical care for people ill or injured on Mount Hood and the surrounding national forest. Since Swift Water Rescue was part of the existing Reach and Treat Teams training and competency, AMR worked with the Troutdale City Council and a group of dedicated civic leaders to launch the River Rescue Program in July, 1999. For the remainder of the summer, AMR used its RAT Team members as Swift Water Rescue Specialists to staff the new River Rescue program.

The program was developed to meet the certification standards of the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) for open water lifeguarding, and is staffed by Oregon licensed Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics. To meet USLA requirements, AMR developed an 80-hour training program with core USLA curriculum as well as additional site-specific training. River Rescue Technicians are not the same as pool lifeguards, but instead are highly trained and certified professionals with expertise in lifeguarding, swift water rescue, and medical care. The AMR River Rescue program received USLA Advanced Lifeguard Agency Certification in April 2012. The United States Lifesaving Association is America’s nonprofit professional association of lifeguards and open water rescuers. The USLA works to reduce the incidence of death and injury in the aquatic environment through public education, national lifeguard standards, training programs, promotion of high levels of lifeguard readiness, and other means.

This year marked the 18th season for the program. From 1999 through 2016, the AMR team performed 97 rescues, more than 1,400 assists of people in distress, and dedicated thousands of hours to prevention activity. Based on pre-program statistics, 66 drownings would have occurred over those years without the program. Each year, the team consists of approximately 20 River Rescue Technicians trained in Swift Water Rescue who provide life guard services seven days a week, ten hours a day at Glenn Otto Park in Troutdale, and at High Rocks Park in Gladstone, Oregon from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

AMR’s Oregon River Safety Program has been highly successful in relegating some of the State’s highest drowning sites for recreational waterways to a footnote in history. The Program has increased swimmer safety through public awareness campaigns; prevention interventions, such as life jacket loaner programs; and community and media partnerships. It has also amassed a wealth of data to guide program enhancement which has documented a significant increase in the use of life jackets for all age groups. Lastly, the Program has prevented drowning through direct and often dramatic rescue interventions by AMR technicians.

From its inception, the goal of AMR’s River Rescue Program has been to prevent loss of life due to drowning and to make the locations AMR guards safer. Primary responsibilities of River Rescue Technicians are to provide public education on water safety, raise awareness of the potential hazards of rivers and open bodies of water, promote life jacket use, deter risky behaviors (such as drug/alcohol use and unsafe ways of floating downriver on makeshift “rafts”), and rapidly respond to swimmers in distress. AMR River Rescue has released a new mission statement for 2016: Drowning prevention through education, vigilance and rescue.

AMR River Rescue utilizes a public health model “Spectrum of Prevention” approach to support the goal of drowning prevention by focusing efforts on: individuals, groups, providers, networks, organizations, and public policy makers. Injury prevention efforts are targeted by utilizing the significant amount of data captured by the program each year to help identify trends. AMR River Rescue has also developed strong partnerships with traditional media to further educational goals, allowing them to reach large television/radio audiences with important water safety messages for visitors to Oregon’s rivers, as well as tips and advice to prevent drowning elsewhere, such as in pools and spas, and in and around the home. In addition to onsite, rivers-edge, education and prevention, River Rescue Team members participate in social media and community events to share information on water and pool safety for children and parents.

Planning and implementation of the program has developed over the course of the last eighteen years. In 1999, after 13 people drowned over a five-year period at Glenn Otto Park on the Sandy River in Troutdale, Oregon, AMR worked with local officials and civic leaders to pioneer an on-site river rescue program using EMS personnel trained as lifeguards specializing in swift water rescue. The program was modeled after ten years of success with the Reach and Treat Team developed by AMR in the late 1980s. AMR’s River Rescue program is distinctly different than the Sheriff’s office and fire departments’ water rescue programs. While they cover long stretches of waterways and can only respond after an incident is reported, AMR’s program focuses on the most dangerous river sections that have the highest drowning mortality sites. To protect these areas, public education and risk mitigation were made priorities and coupled with the River Rescue Technicians’ training in Swift Water Rescue to spot trouble and act immediately.

The window to intervene in a developing drowning and save a life is often less than 30 seconds. After several years of program development, the River Rescue Program received certification from the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), which is recognized internationally as the “gold standard” for accreditation.* To meet USLA standards, AMR developed a unique 80 hour training program with a core USLA curriculum with additional swift water and medical training. The program is unique in the U.S. and is the only certified agency that provides lifeguards solely in a swift water environment (versus beaches or lakes).

Because prevention is an important component of the program, a life jacket loaner program was developed, offering free daily use of hundreds of personal flotation devices (sizes from infant to adult) to visitors of the parks. In the summer of 2002, after three people drowned in less than a month at High Rocks Park along the Clackamas River, AMR expanded the program to cover the popular river site. Responsibility for the Clackamas River is vested with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, but the shore is governed by two cities, one on each side of the river. The lack of clear jurisdictional responsibility had caused a stalemate over how to improve safety at High Rocks Park for many years until AMR proposed expanding its River Rescue Program to that site and agreed to accept responsibility. (AMR knows the county well – as they have been the 9-1-1 ambulance provider in Clackamas County for decades). High Rocks Park presents much different challenges than Glenn Otto, with 20-25 foot rock cliffs and formations from which adventurers jump into the cold, fast moving water. Both the Sandy and Clackamas River share origin from Mount Hood glaciers and have swift current, cold water and underwater hazards.

The program also serves as a regional resource for water safety public education, water hazard mitigation, deployable rescue swimmers, as an in-water search resource for recovery of drowning fatalities in other areas of local rivers (upon request from law enforcement) and provide services and support to the Regional Clackamas County Water Safety Consortium.

Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium members include:

  • AMR River Rescue Program
  • Canby Fire District
  • Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol
  • Clackamas County Fire District 1
  • Estacada Fire District
  • Gladstone Fire Department
  • Lake Oswego Fire Department
  • Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue
  • Sandy Fire District Recruitment and Training

To prepare for staffing the river parks by Memorial Day weekend, AMR begins each season by recruiting candidates in February. They must pass a rigorous swim test (covering 500 meters in less than 10 minutes without the assistance of any propulsion devices) in order to continue through the selection and training process. New candidates join returning members in a challenging, eighty-hour course led by veteran River Rescue Technicians and other experts. Training topics include:

  • Swift water Hydrology and Hazards
  • Swift water Rescue Tactics
  • Lifeguarding Tactics
  • Observation and scanning
  • Rescue Scene Management
  • Community Education
  • Rescue kayaks
  • Rescue paddleboards
  • Media Relations
  • Staffing River Parks

Teams of 2-3 River Rescue Technicians are on duty at each site, and are in constant radio communications with each other, AMR’s Communications Center, the 9-1-1 Center and local law enforcement officers. An alert is transmitted any time a River Rescue Specialist enters the water to conduct an assist or rescue, and if not canceled within five minutes, a full EMS response is dispatched. According to the USLA, the most challenging assignment for a lifeguard is safeguarding natural bodies of water, referred to as open water. Unlike pools and waterparks, crowd conditions, swift currents, cold water, underwater hazards, weather, and related conditions of open water can change quickly and pose unique obstacles to maintaining water safety. A primary responsibility is to provide constant outreach to warn visitors of the hazards, both new inherent, at each site. AMR technicians monitor water temperature, current speed, underwater hazards and public census at regular intervals every day, including in-water assessments. Even the most seasoned swimmer can be taken by surprise in swift moving water, but are generally less inclined to exercise risky behavior after an on-site expert has informed them of the hazards and possible consequences. Over the years, AMR’s River Rescue Team has become the region’s water safety subject-matter experts whom media outlets and others frequently turn to for water safety messages. Due to the focus on prevention and media interactions, the River Rescue Team receives annual training in prevention messaging and media interaction, including mock on-camera interviews and speaking points which undergo annual revisions based on previous years data.

Over the last 18 years the program has successfully reduced the drowning rate at Glenn Otto and High Rocks parks from approximately 1 in 15,000 to 1 in 256,500. The very first achievement however, was relieving community tension. At the first City Council meeting after the program began, then Councilor and now Mayor Doug Daoust, asked AMR leaders “how it feels to deliver a miracle?” Having received one of the highest compliments it could imagine, and with intense media attention, AMR set about re-instilling the philosophy of extensive selection and training, hypervigilance, and a primary focus on prevention. The official title, Oregon River Safety Program, was so named because water safety and prevention is the core focus of the program. Not only has community awareness and use of lifejackets increased, but families frequently state that they come to one of the parks for the add safety of lifeguards. The drowning rate at Glenn Otto and High Rocks parks has been reduced from approximately 1 in 15,000 to 1 in 256,500, and AMR hopes to continue to improve every year. In 2016 alone two people (a sixteen year old and a six year old) were pulled up from underwater, and an additional 147 adults and children were assisted before submerging. Over 18 years the program has directly intervened in 1,650 lives who were either beginning to or actively drowning, and have made direct prevention contacts to 23,330 people and families. The program:

  • Has saved lives, which has in return, propelled the continuance of the program.
  • Stopped the long history of fatal drownings in young people at the two parks.
  • Success created relief among the communities and community good will towards AMR’s River Rescue Team.
  • Has enhanced strong community partnerships.
  • Raised overall awareness in communities and the region about hazards of rivers in Oregon.
  • Has helped to normalized life jacket use.
  • Developed an avenue for EMTs to transition from River Rescue to AMR Ambulance Operations.
  • Has changed city parks from former “party” hangouts (with alcohol, drug use and risky behavior) to more family-friendly environments, decreasing law enforcement issues.
  • Has seen the number of visitors to the parks increase.
  • Has seen life jacket use improve across all age groups and the implemented life jacket loaner program has seen yearly increasing demand.

Today, AMR funds most of the $160,000 annual program as a community service, assisted by the City of Troutdale with a $10,000 grant most years. An additional $10,000 per year is needed for new/refreshed equipment and is a relatively small portion of the Multnomah and Clackamas County budgets. Seed funding to purchase equipment in the early years was provided by the Troutdale Booster Club and Providence Milwaukie Hospital. The program has also received grants from Safe Kids Portland Metro, Safe Kids Worldwide and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to purchase PFDs for the life jacket loaner program, develop water safety banners, support for water safety educational programs and awareness materials to distribute at events throughout the season.

Congratulations to AMR for the River Rescue Program’s selection as a 2016 AMBY Winner for Best Community Impact Program.

 

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