Tag: Virginia

Richmond EMT is now an American Girl doll

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Richmonder April O’Quinn is a doll.

The Richmond Ambulance Authority EMT was one of five winners nationwide of the American Girl “Heroes With Heart” contest earlier this year. The company, which makes the popular American Girl Dolls, held the contest to honor frontline workers. Families were asked to nominate someone who’s making a difference in their lives by submitting a photo of their nominee and a written statement about how that person helped the community.

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Virginia | Voices from the front lines of the pandemic in Richmond

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Wes Wampler wakes at 4:30 a.m. on the days he works as a captain for the Richmond Ambulance Authority.

The typical shift, 12 hours at time, two days on, two days off, is anything but typical these days. Though no longer a paramedic, as a captain with 15 years of experience, Wampler still reports to emergency medical calls. Now, he’s in an SUV instead of an ambulance.

Being on the front lines during a pandemic, things change, all the time.

“It’s an exciting job. It’s a fulfilling job. It’s a rewarding job,” he said.

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CMS “Pauses” Prior Authorization Model for Scheduled, Repetitive Non-Emergency Ambulance Transportation

CMS released published a guidance document summarizing some of the steps that it has taken to relieve the administrative burden on health care providers and suppliers during the current public health emergency.  As part of that document, CMS indicated that it will be “pausing” the Prior Authorization Model for scheduled, repetitive non-emergency ambulance transports.  Under…

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40 Under 40: Rebecca Szeles (Richmond Ambulance Authority – Richmond, VA)

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.

Rebecca Szeles
Communications Supervisor
Richmond Ambulance Authority
Richmond, Virginia


Nominated by: Mark Tenia


Rebecca Szeles is a Nationally Registered Paramedic and Communications Supervisor at the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA). She is a Virginia Commonwealth University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She is also a member of RAA’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM) and Peer Support Program (PSP).

Reason for Nomination

Supervisor Szeles has not only dedicated herself to her position, but has also committed herself to supporting the mental health and well-being of her co-workers. In 2017 Supervisor Szeles invited Jim Marshall from the 911-Training Institute to speak to staff about resiliency. In 2018, she went through training to become a member of our Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team. CISM helps providers deal with traumatic events such as line of duty or pediatric deaths, and Mass Casualty Incidents (MCI). Supervisor Szeles realized more could be and needed to be done to help RAA’s providers on a day to day basis.

After becoming a member of CISM, Supervisor Szeles spearheaded efforts to create a Peer Support Program at RAA. The program was created as another tool to help paramedics and EMTs deal with the day to day stresses that come with the job. In 2018, Supervisor Szeles invited a leading expert in Peer Support to help train staff members who would become the first members of RAA’s Peer Support Team. She assisted in the creation of an awareness campaign promoting the importance of mental health and using resources like CISM, Peer Support, and external support services. She also assisted the Virginia Office of EMS by appearing in a Public Service Announcement titled “Make the Call.” The video was viewed more than 34,000 times on social media.

Supervisor Szeles has also overseen RAA’s resiliency training aimed at helping our providers bounce back from difficult events and cope with stresses from those events in a healthy way. The program helps Communication Officers, (or System Status Controllers) Paramedics and EMTs effectively manage stress and fosters professional development. Since our Peer Support Team launched in December 2018 the organization has had 122 recorded interactions with staff members. Our number of contacts has steadily risen as awareness of the program has increased. 83.6% of our contacts have been work related and 20.5% have been related to CISM. 16.4% of our contacts have involved non-work related issues. Of the employees that have taken advantage of the programs, we have seen positive outcomes and successful performances in their respective positions. Supervisor Szeles has played a key role in those successes.

RAA is now getting requests from other agencies from within and outside the state to help set up programs of their own. The work Supervisor Szeles has done is helping a wider range of EMS providers outside of RAA.

Last year Supervisor Szeles also took on major responsibilities in addition to her regular duties when our Director of Communications went on leave for surgery. For three months she stepped into the role to fill in gaps, producing daily and monthly performance reports, managing the interview and hiring process for new employees, as well as answering any calls or responding to any issues that needed to be addressed by the Communications Center. Supervisor Szeles has proven to be flexible, hardworking and an invaluable asset that has made her co-workers and our agency stronger.


View all of the 2020 Mobile Healthcare 40 Under 40 Honorees

CMS Announces Comment Period for National Expansion of Prior Authorization Process

On October 29, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted a notice in the Federal Register announcing an opportunity for the public to provide comments on the proposed national expansion of the prior authorization process for repetitive, scheduled non-emergent ground ambulance transportation.  CMS refers to this process as its “RSNAT Prior Authorization…

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CMS Announces Extension of Prior Authorization Program

On September 16, 2019, CMS published a notice in the Federal Register that it would be extending the prior authorization demonstration project for another year. The extension is limited to those states where prior authorization was in effect for calendar year 2019. The affected states are Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,…

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CMS Announces Extension of Prior Authorization Program

On November 30, 2018, CMS issued a notice on its website that it would be extending the prior authorization demonstration project for another year. The extension is limited to those states where prior authorization was in effect for calendar year 2018. The affected states are Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia…

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Talking Medicare: CMS Implements Further Dialysis Cuts

Talking Medicare: CMS Implements Further Cuts in Reimbursement for Dialysis Services; Medicare Payment Data Shows Continued Reduction in Overall Spending on Dialysis Transports, but Net Increase in Dialysis Payments in Prior Authorization States On October 1, 2018, CMS implemented an additional thirteen (13%) cut in reimbursement for non-emergency BLS transports to and from dialysis. This cut…

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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: 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…

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First Interim Evaluation Report on Medicare Prior Authorization

Talking Medicare: First Interim Evaluation Report on Medicare Prior Authorization (An 80-page report confirming what you already likely suspected) On February 28, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted an interim report on its prior authorization demonstration project for repetitive, scheduled, non-emergent ambulance transportation. The report, titled First Interim Evaluation Report of…

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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)


  • 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)

Summary of December 2017 Ambulance Open Door Forum

On December 14, 2017, CMS held its latest Open Door Forum. As usual, it started with a few announcements, as follows: Ambulance Inflation Factor – CMS announced that it had published Transmittal 3893 on October 27, 2017, which sets forth the Ambulance Inflation Factor (AIF) for calendar year 2018. In that Transmittal, CMS indicated that…

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Navigating a Post-Prior Authorization World

Talking Medicare: Navigating a Post-Prior Authorization World Novitas Solutions, Inc. recently announced that it will no longer issue prior authorizations for scheduled, repetitive non-emergency transports, effective December 1, 2017. This announcement was based on Novitas’ expectation that the demonstration project will expire at the end of this calendar year. For ambulance suppliers in the states…

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Can You Fire for Hate Group Participation?

I am often asked by ambulance service managers if an employer can discipline or terminate an employee for their off-duty conduct. The answer is not an easy one and becomes more challenging when it involves an employee’s Constitutional Rights. In light of the activities in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend, the Society for Human Resource Management…

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Talking Medicare: Prior Authorization Spending Update

Prior Authorization Data Shows Continued Reduction in Overall Spending on Dialysis Transports; Pendulum Swings Back Slightly in New Jersey and Pennsylvania In May 2014, CMS announced the implementation of a three-year prior authorization demonstration project for repetitive scheduled non-emergency ambulance transports. This demonstration project was initially limited to the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and…

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Alabama Governor Signs REPLICA Compact

Governor Kay Ivey recently signed into law Alabama’s REPLICA legislation, HB250. Alabama joins ten other states—Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Idaho, Kansas, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, Mississippi, and Georgia—in this forward-thinking interstate compact.

REPLICA, the Recognition of EMS Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact,  recognizes the day-to-day movement of EMS personnel across state lines. It extends the privilege to practice under authorized circumstances to EMS personnel based on their home state license, as well as allows for the rapid exchange of licensure history between Compact member states..

Learn more about how REPLICA participation can help your state at http://www.emsreplica.org.

EMS Week Contest Winners Announced

EMS professionals across the country recently celebrated EMS Week, held May 21-27, by hosting a variety of activities, memorials and both fun-filled and informative events. The AAA asked our members to tell us about some of their favorite ways they honored and celebrated their profession throughout the week, and we have selected three stories as our EMS Week contest winners. Here are some of the highlights:

LifeCare Medical Transports (Fredericksburg, VA): “This year’s EMS Week began with us honoring those who gave their lives so that others might live, at our National EMS Memorial Service. On Sunday, May 21, we co-hosted the EMS Service Cyclists for a dinner on their stop in Fredericksburg, VA. The remainder of the week consisted of fun yet educational online EMS Challenges each day, with participants being entered into raffles for great prizes. All employees received a letter from our leadership, as well as EMS gift bags.”

Armstrong Ambulance Service (Arlington, MA): “We love celebrating our employees every year with a week-long celebration of EMS Week. We annually begin the week with breakfast catered to the bases. This year, we brought carnival food trucks to the bases for a catered lunch of fair food favorites, including hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages and fried dough. On Friday, an ice cream truck visited the bases with sweet treats!

One of our favorite traditions is our EMS Week scavenger hunt. Field crews are given a list of tasks that allow them to interact with our community and that they must complete within 12 hours. The submissions are always hilarious! Throughout the week, we also hold various giveaways for local concerts, Red Sox games and gift certificates.”

McGregor Memorial EMS (Durham, NH): During the week, preschoolers and parents participated in the educational “Boo-Boo Bus” activity, in which children placed band-aids on teddy bears, and kids also participated in several coloring activities.

We also do “CPR on the Street,” in which we set up a tent and table with educational materials on CPR, and we have several mannequins that the public can use to learn “hands-only” CPR.

Finally, there is a volunteer-created place mat that we distributed to local restaurants. We distributed 600 place mats and crayons that were full of informational tidbits, as well as coloring areas and a maze puzzle.”

Thank you to all those who participated, and congratulations to our winners!

REPLICA Compact Enacted

REPLICA Meets Goal, Interstate Compact Becomes Official

May 8, 2017
For Immediate Release
Sue Prentiss

May 8, 2017 (Falls Church, VA). With the 10th member state enactment, the Recognition of
Emergency Medical Services Licensure Interstate Compact (REPLICA) has become official.
Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia signed Senate Bill 109 on today activating the nation’s first EMS
licensure compact. States that have passed REPLICA to date include: Colorado, Texas, Kansas,
Virginia, Tennessee, Idaho, Utah, Mississippi, Wyoming and Georgia.

Released in 2014, REPLICA’s model legislation creates a formal pathway for the licensed individual
to provide pre-hospital care across state lines under authorized circumstances. According to Keith
Wages, president of the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO), “REPLICA
represents a collective, nationwide effort to address the problems faced by responders when needing
to cross state borders in the line of their duties.” Wages highlighted the compact’s abilities to
“increase access to healthcare, reduce regulatory barriers for EMS responders, and place an
umbrella of quality over cross border practice not previously seen in the EMS profession.” Wages
also noted that the partnership with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians
(NREMT) has been essential during the advocacy and implementation phases. “We are grateful for
their continued support and contributions.”

Through funding provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), NASEMSO led 23 EMS,
fire, law enforcement organizations and associations as well as key federal partners in the design and
drafting of REPLICA. The National Registry of EMTs (NREMT) currently provides funding to finalize
the development of the Commission.

The compact calls for establishment of an Interstate Commission with each state that has passed
REPLICA holding a seat, as well as a national EMS personnel coordinated database. Member states
will be able to rapidly share personnel licensure information, develop policy focused only on cross
border EMS practice, and hold EMS personnel originating in other states accountable in an
unprecedented way. The National Registry of EMT’s (NREMT) has committed to the development
and hosting of the coordinated database.

Twelve national associations and organizations support REPLICA. Three states have REPLICA bills
under consideration in their legislative sessions. Learn more at www.emsreplica.org.


Lifetime Achievement of Susan McHenry

Congratulations to Susan McHenry of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of EMS! The National Association of State EMS Officials passes Resolution 2017-01 honoring the lifetime achievement of Susan McHenry. Her 40 year career began at the Virginia Department of Health in 1976 and has continued at the on at the National Highway Traffic…

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The Future of Prior Authorization

In May 2014, CMS announced the creation of a three-year demonstration project that calls for the prior authorization of repetitive scheduled non-emergency ambulance transports. The demonstration project was first implemented in the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. These states were selected based on their higher-than-average utilization rates for repetitive ground ambulance transportation….

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