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2011 was a very busy year for EMS providers, as they handled everything from the aftermath of Mother Nature's fury to rescues, shooting rampages and wrecks.
Providers were busy promoting legislation that will impact the delivery of EMS throughout the country, and they paused to remember their colleagues who gave the supreme sacrifice a decade ago at the World Trade Center.
A few also faced consequences after posting pictures of patients on Facebook. But, they weren't the only ones dabbling in social media. A man hanging on a cliff in Pennsylvania kept his friends updated on his and his dog's status as they waited to be rescued!
Providers were pushed to the limit across the nation during the year following twisters, wildfires, floods and droughts, as well as snow and ice storms. A veteran meterologist recently told an AP writer he had never seen a year for extreme weather calling it "the deadly, destructive and relentless 2011."
As of late November, NOAA officials said the cost of a dozen weather-related incidents had exceeded $1B damage, which was more than sustained in all of the 1980s.
Half the billion-dollar disasters were tornado outbreaks in one of the deadliest years on record. More than 540 people were killed in those six tragedies. In four days in April, there were 343 tornadoes in the largest outbreak on record, including 199 in one day, which is another record, they said.
When St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., took a direct hit by an F-5 tornado on May 23, staff and EMS crews quickly evacuated patients from the twisted, mangled structure. In 90 minutes, they had evacuated 183 patients from their debris-strewn rooms. Another 30 waiting for care in the emergency department also were assisted in leaving the building. Five patients in the ICU located on an upper floor, as well as a visitor, were killed.
Dr. Sean Smith, the county's EMS medical director, couldn't say enough about those who made the difference that day. "Our EMS crews here are superb and work together all the time.They have the same protocols. They work as a team every day, not just on big incidents. There aren't any territorial issues between them."
Also in 2011, there were several notable legislative efforts:
The Field EMS Quality, Innovation and Cost-Effectiveness Improvements Act of 2011
The Field EMS Quality, Innovation and Cost-Effectiveness Improvements Act of 2011 was introduced in October, and aims to improve the nation’s prehospital care system, including by recognizing Health and Human Services (HHS) as the lead federal agency for EMS. It also establishes a grant program, calls for enhanced research initiatives, and says national guidelines should be established for physicians who direct or oversee prehospital providers.
The Dale Long Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act
The Danny McIntosh Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act
Several efforts legislative efforts introduced this year relate to the Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) program.
The PSOB program has historically only provided death benefits to the family members of governmental public safety personnel who die in the line of duty.
This year, two efforts were introduced to extend coverage to paramedics and EMTs employed by private non-profit EMS agencies; Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Dale Long Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act (S. 385) and Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Danny McIntosh Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act (H.R. 1668).
H.R. 1668 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee and S. 385 was included in the Senate version of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Authorization Bill. The House passed a version of the FAA bill which did not include the Dale Long Act language so House and Senate conferees are currently negotiating to merge the two bills.
The Public Safety Officers' Benefits Improvements Act of 2011