Pennsylvania Governor signs new emergency medical services law

Governor Edward G. Rendell has signed into law Senate Bill 240, a measure to update and enhance Pennsylvania's existing Emergency Medical Services Act. The law was first enacted in 1985.

"Pennsylvania's EMS system responds to a dispatch every 18 seconds, so it is essential that the system work efficiently and effectively. On top of that, the number of certified providers, operating ambulances, and patients seen has increased on a yearly basis over the past decade," said Governor Rendell. "State government is committed to addressing the challenges that our dedicated EMS practitioners and first responders face every day, because doing so improves public safety."

The EMS system consists of first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, nurses, and physicians. These professionals staff the nearly 3,500 air and ground ambulances, hospitals, medical command centers, EMS education institutes, poison centers, certified trauma centers, injury prevention and public education programs, and all important components of the entire EMS system, which remains well connected through a complex communication system and the 911 centers.

The act is designed to achieve a higher quality, more adaptive, and better coordinated EMS system in Pennsylvania. The new law requires all EMS agencies to have a medical director. The law also will require ambulance drivers and attendants to be certified and regulated by the Department of Health, further enhancing public safety.

Recent improvements to the EMS system include new, high-tech education opportunities, the implementation of statewide treatment protocols and improved abilities to support emergency response to all hazard threats.

To help develop the legislation, the Department of Health consulted with a number of private sector organizations and sister agencies. It also conducted more than 50 town hall meetings to solicit public input.

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