Calif. Senator Eyes Bill To Require EMT Certification for Firefighters
On Friday, state Sen. Isadore Hall (D-Compton) said he is drafting legislation that would require all California firefighters and emergency service workers to obtain emergency medical technician certification, the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" reports.
Hall's announcement follows a Times investigation that found nearly 25% of Compton Fire Department firefighters lack valid EMT certification (Welsh, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 3/27).
According to "L.A. Now," there is no state law that requires firefighters to carry EMT cards. However, many local fire departments require them.
To become an EMT in California, individuals must obtain training to:
- Dress wounds;
- Deliver shocks to those suffering a cardiac arrest; and
- Handle patients with severe trauma.
Licensed EMTs must take refresher courses every two years.
Some Firefighters Lack Certification
According to a Times survey of the 15 busiest fire departments in Los Angeles County, Compton is the only agency that has no rule requiring all firefighters to be EMT certified.
Meanwhile, an investigation using a public records request found that 17 out of 74 Compton firefighters -- or 23% -- lacked valid EMT cards.
Compton Fire Chief Jon Thompson said that 10 of the firefighters who lack certification serve a limited assisting role when they respond to medical emergencies. Meanwhile, the other seven non-certified firefighters are higher-ranking officials who largely do office work.
Thompson said uncertified firefighters have been ordered to obtain an EMT card by the end of May. He added that he plans to advocate for an EMT requirement in the department's next round of negotiations with the city firefighters union (Welsh, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 3/26).
Details of Planned EMT Legislation
Hall said he plans to file legislation within the next few weeks that would require statewide EMT certification for emergency service workers.
During a radio talk show, Hall said he was "outraged" that several firefighters were working without certification, adding, "I will be taking action."
Meanwhile, Cathy Chidester, director of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Agency, said she would support the measure. However, she said "there are certain exemptions" that should be made, particularly for small and volunteer fire departments ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 3/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.