Officials Seek Overhaul of Emergency Medical Services
Members of the Emergency Medical Services Commission at a meeting on Wednesday criticized the Emergency Medical Services Authority and its director for delaying investigations of paramedic misconduct, the Sacramento Bee reports.
A Bee investigation uncovered a lack of oversight of paramedics in California. The investigation found that EMSA had a backlog of nearly 300 misconduct cases.
Cesar Aristeiguieta, EMSA director, told commissioners that his agency has reduced the backlog to 140 cases. He added that he aims to resolve all future enforcement cases in 180 days.
Bruce Lee, a commission member and emergency medical system administrator for Santa Clara County, said the commission is calling for mandatory criminal background checks and the creation of a statewide licensing and certification registry system for California's 70,000 emergency medical technicians.
EMTs currently are overseen by county agencies. The Bee investigation found lapses in the EMT licensing system, allowing applicants with criminal records to obtain certification without undergoing a background check.
A bill (SB 583) by Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) will be amended to include the commission's recommendations.
A similar measure (SB 254) by Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) also calls for statewide licensing and mandatory background checks, as well as a diversion program for paramedics and EMTs with substance abuse problems (McIntosh, Sacramento Bee, 6/28).