Legislature OKs EMT Oversight Bill; Governor’s Approval Expected
On Thursday, the Legislature approved a measure that would require background checks of California emergency medical technicians, the Sacramento Bee reports.
AB 2917, by Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Newark), requires EMTs to be certified in the county where they work and would establish a state-operated central EMT agency.
The local certification rule is intended to prevent EMTs with questionable employment or criminal backgrounds from looking for certification in counties that do not require background checks.
Officials could use the new worker registry to track EMTs statewide and ensure there are sufficient emergency responders in areas affected by disasters. The new system will be funded by increased EMT fees.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is expected to sign the bill. However, he said he will not sign the bill until a budget compromise is approved.
Schwarzenegger's staff urged state emergency medical services officials to improve the system after a 2007 investigation by the Bee highlighted "extensive problems" related to "patchwork" licensing and certification standards, according to the Bee.
Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation last year that would have established similar certification requirements but would not have disclosed details about EMT misconduct (McIntosh, Sacramento Bee, 9/5).
According to an editorial in the Contra Costa Times, the EMT certification bill "should go a long way in weeding out unsuitable EMTs and prevent those who were fired from getting similar jobs in counties that do not do background checks."
It adds, "Anyone working with people in need of medical assistance should be well-qualified and of good character," and the "only way to assure the public that those requirements are met is for the state to require extensive background checks."
The editorial concludes, "Signing this bill should be one of Schwarzenegger's first acts after the budget is passed and at least before the Sept. 30 deadline, even if there is no budget resolution" (MediaNews/Contra Costa Times, 9/4).