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State by State: January 2019

California voters reached a decision on Prop 11.

A new print feature collects EMS news from around the nation.

MARYLAND: Investigation Leads to ‘Welfare Check’ Recommendations

A federal investigation reviewing the 2016 fatal shooting of a Maryland firefighter found that 9-1-1 public safety call takers did not warn first responders that the possibility of guns had been reported at the scene, according to the Washington Post. Furthermore, volunteer firefighters were not wearing a common uniform the night of the incident, the investigation found.

These facts contributed to the fatal shooting of Prince George’s County firefighter John “Skillet” Ulmschneider on April 15, 2016. Ulmschneider answered a 9-1-1 call to check on a person’s welfare.

In light of the findings, federal investigators recommended that police departments, not fire departments, handle initial calls for a welfare check, and that public safety agencies request safety precautions when they are dispatched. The report was released Oct. 20, 2018 by the NIOSH Firefighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program.

NORTH DAKOTA: Three Killed in Air Ambulance Crash

Pilot Todd Lasky, nurse Bonnie Cook, and paramedic Chris Iverson were killed Nov. 18 when their twin-engine Bismarck Air Medical plane crashed in a remote pasture shortly after takeoff in rural Morton County. The team was en route to Williston, N.D. to care for a neonatal patient. Addressing an estimated crowd of 1,500 gathered for the memorial service at Bismarck Event Center Nov. 26, Monsignor James Shea praised emergency responders as “heroes of the impossible.”

CALIFORNIA: Controversial Rest Break Bill Passes

California voters in November approved Proposition 11, which will require ambulance crews to remain on call through their rest and meal breaks. The measure passed by a margin of 60% to 40%, according to the Los Angeles Times. While supporters of the bill argued that mandatory rest breaks will unfairly raise costs for the industry and possibly lead to cutbacks in available ambulances, vocal opponents—led by labor unions—argue that overworked crews are entitled to rest breaks and that the bill would protect ambulance companies from lawsuits relating to back pay owed.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: National EMS Memorial Approved

President Trump signed H.R. 1037 into law Nov. 3, authorizing the National EMS Memorial Foundation to build a “commemorative work” in the District of Columbia. First introduced in February 2017 by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), the measure has been the prime cause of the foundation. “While public safety officers from law enforcement and the fire service have been recognized for their sacrifice with national memorials,” the foundation’s website declares, “the men and women of EMS have gone without recognition for too long. It is our mandate to finally give these silent heroes a fitting memorial.”

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