EMS changes proposed by Governor Cuomo

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents volunteer based EMS providers across New York State. Once again, the Governor and the New York State Legislature are striving to balance the cost of services with a struggling economy, as such, FASNY support’s Governor Cuomo’s efforts to improve efficiency in New York government.

Included in the budget process are some proposed changes to Public Health Law affecting EMS. Changes which significantly alter the oversight and delivery of EMS, must be carefully considered. In the best interests of uninterrupted public safety and to assure a smooth transition to a more efficient system, FASNY recommends that if any changes are made to PHL Article 30, they take effect no less than 180 days after passage into law.

The diversity of population, and regional needs, vary widely across New York State. Representation of Rural communities is as critical for service delivery as are the needs of our suburban and urban population centers.  Each has unique EMS challenges and needs, which are best addressed by the residents of those communities. A one size fits all approach does not fit the needs of New York State! Any restructuring of EMS regions must take the unique aspects of geography, demographics, and population density into consideration.  Additionally, the present diverse group of health care providers, including representation from the Volunteer Fire and EMS services currently enjoys statutory authority on all regional and state EMS advisory boards. This system has insured that the choices of community residents on the provision of essential services are maintained at the local level.

FASNY thanks the legislature for its continued recognition of priority funding of EMS training at the EMT Basic level. As we have clearly seen EMS providers are critical for first response to events of all types and sizes, from the care provided to the elderly person who has fallen to federally declared natural disasters such as Hurricane Irene and Sandy, or the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

We ask that the legislature continue its support of our Volunteer Fire Fighters and EMS providers by providing an exemption from licensing and operating fees to all voluntary ambulance services and ALS First Response (ALSFR) services.

FASNY recognizes the importance of data collection, and also considers the costs involved in that collection. Just as the Governors proposed budget aims to contain expenses and avoid waste, we ask to be allowed to do the same. The current paper prehospital ambulance call reporting (PCR) system should remain as the standard run report and data submission tool for services responding to less than 3000 calls per year.  Unless an electronic (ePCR) system is provided for at no cost, these low call volume volunteer 911 agencies should remain reporting in the current paper format.

FASNY is committed to public safety and the development of a more effective and coordinated emergency response system. We remain available to our elected officials to continue to assist them as we explore the future of emergency services at the local, state and national levels.