Oct. 29, 2019

HARRISBURG - The state House has unanimously approved Rep. Clint Owlett’s (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) bill aimed at assisting rural emergency medical services (EMS) companies and the patients who rely on them.

House Bill 1869 would allow EMS companies in fifth- through eighth-class counties to apply to the Department of Health for a waiver to staffing requirements on a Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance.

“Our rural EMS agencies are dedicated to saving lives but struggle to maintain mandated staffing levels 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Owlett said. “Rather than force the ambulance to stay at the station, the option of seeking a waiver for staffing requirements would ensure trained first responders can do their jobs.”

Current law requires a BLS ambulance be staffed at a minimum with at least one individual who is certified as an emergency medical responder (EMR) or higher and one who is licensed as an emergency medical technician (EMT). If those staffing levels are not met, the ambulance may not leave the station, putting lives at risk.

“Current law is preventing people from receiving medical care when they need it the most. This change is long overdue,” Owlett said.

Under the bill, the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services in the Department of Health would have the ability to review and decide on a case-by-case basis each waiver that is submitted to the bureau from an EMS agency located in one of the eligible counties.

The bill is one of more than a dozen measures approved by the House this week and last as part of the “Helpers and Heroes” package of legislation supporting first responders across the state. Volunteer incentives, improved access to training and more flexible funding options are among the policies now awaiting action in the Senate.

More information about the bills is available at PAHouseGOP.com.

Representative Clint Owlett
68th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia Hippler