Nearly two-thirds of EMS agencies responding to an NAEMT survey expect to be financially insolvent within six months.
That horrifying takeaway is among the points the organization is highlighting in new messaging for Congress. It's asking for EMS providers' support in delivering a plea for help as the COVID-19 pandemic pushes systems toward collapse.
The survey drew responses from nearly 900 EMS leaders in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Among its results:
65% of responding agencies expect to be financially insolvent within six months;
64% are using treatment-in-place protocols, but only 12% of those are being reimbursed for it;
61% reported decreases in call volumes;
Those decreases averaged 34%;
80% reported excessive monthly overtime costs;
9% reported having only "days to weeks to remain operational without relief."
Agencies are incurring unplanned expenses for PPE and overtime pay, the NAEMT notes, without being reimbursed for its additional care and costs. At the same time, 9-1-1 calls have fallen dramatically, further reducing essential revenue when it's needed most.
Perhaps most alarming, one service in 11 anticipates possible demise in the immediate future ("days to weeks"). All of these respondents provide 9-1-1 response, and more than half have applied for federal, state, or local grant help but were denied.
The flyer will be distributed to all congressional office contacts as part of NAEMT’s current advocacy campaign, as well as the media and NAEMT's network of state advocacy coordinators. It asks for three things:
Amendment of the Stafford Act to allow all 9-1-1 medical responders a onetime opportunity to apply directly to FEMA for Public Assistance grants;
CMS reimbursement of all ground ambulance providers for performing protocol-driven treatments in place without transport during the COVID-19 pandemic response; and
Higher-priority access for EMTs and paramedics to PPE and COVID testing, and essential-worker hazard pay for EMS.
As letters from constituents make the most impact on elected officials, the NAEMT also seeks help promoting the requests from individual providers. "We really have an uphill climb to get language into the next CARES bill that helps EMS practitioners and agencies," says NAEMT President Matt Zavadsky, MS-HSA, NREMT.
The NAEMT's Online Legislative Service makes this easy. Click the link to send a quick letter to your Congressional representatives. It could make a different in the next relief bill.