Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act: Policy Implications
By Allison G. S. Knox, EMT-B, Faculty Member at American Military University
On May 12, the Veterans Emergency Medical Technician Support Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation, H.B. 1818, “assists military medic veterans to efficiently transition their military medical training into a civilian workforce and addresses the shortage of emergency medical technicians in states.”
This legislation will help streamline the process for former military medics to join the civilian workforce. Under this bill, it will now be easier for veterans who have completed military EMT training to meet state requirements for EMT certification and licensure.
This bill has the potential to be tremendously beneficial to local governments. First of all, it will save localities money by freeing them from having to retrain military EMTs on skills they’ve already been performing. In the last few years, many local governments have suffered from slashed budgets, which have reduced funding for the expensive process of training medics.
This legislation will also help alleviate the growing shortage of EMTs throughout the country. According to the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, “H.R. 1818 directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a demonstration program for states with a shortage of emergency medical technicians to develop a streamlined transition program for trained military medics to meet state EMT licensure requirements.”
Localities Will Still Need to Pay for Some Training
While the federal government – via the military – is ultimately paying to have these EMTs trained and then passing on the dollars spent on training to local governments, it is ultimately up to localities to provide additional training to EMTs. The military likely focused on specific aspects of emergency medical training, such as combat wounds and environmental injuries. Local and governments must update policies to make sure personnel are trained to their own standards of patient care.
[Related: The Importance of EMS Recertification]
The Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act is a good piece of legislation that will save time and money and put more EMTs in ambulances. However, before this legislation is enacted, local and state governments should spend time learning how this legislation will affect their jurisdictions and what training gaps may exist so they can get the appropriate programs in place for military EMTs wishing to transition to the civilian workforce.
About the Author: Allison G. S. Knox is on the faculty at American Military University. An emergency medical technician and a political scientist, Allison’s research interests are comprised of federalism and emergency management/emergency medical services policy issues. Prior to teaching, Allison worked in a level one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds master’s degrees in emergency management, international relations and history and is working on her doctorate at Virginia Tech in public administration and policy. Allison currently serves as the Chapter Sponsor and Faculty Adviser for the West Virginia Iota Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, and also serves as the Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society.