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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: November 10, 2021 04:33 PM
From: Representative Joe Hamm
To: All House members
Subject: Making a COVID Waiver Permanent: Helping our Emergency Responders Help More People
In Pennsylvania, we are blessed with tens of thousands of emergency responders who do everything they can to save the lives of our family members, friends, and neighbors. They take middle-of-the-night calls, willingly put themselves in harm’s way, brave harsh and dangerous weather conditions, and put their lives on the line to provide the best possible care to their patients. 
Unfortunately, our emergency responders have had their hands tied by regulations that are keeping them from responding to more calls and saving more lives. In the very near future, I’m introducing a bill to get government out of the way and help our emergency responders help more Pennsylvanians.
Under previous state regulations, certified emergency personnel, such as firefighters with specific first-aid, CPR and emergency vehicle training, were permitted to drive ambulances with an EMT on board. Those regulations were changed several years ago to increase the number of EMRs/EMTs required per BLS ambulance. While changed with good intentions, coupled with staffing and volunteer shortages, funding challenges and growing coverage areas, these regulations have had dire consequences.
How can it be that while willing and trained volunteers stand by, calls are getting unanswered? Because of government regulations, more-than-capable ambulance crews are not able to the leave their stations. Lives are being lost, especially in rural areas, because trained firefighters and other certified emergency response volunteers are not permitted to drive a vehicle without at least an EMR and an EMT or 2 EMTs on board. That needs to change today, and we have proof that it can be done safely.
During the governor’s COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, these regulations were waived to increase access to healthcare. Under his COVID waiver, EMS agencies were permitted to operate as they once were and provided needed regulatory flexibility to meet the public safety needs of their local communities. My legislation would make this commonsense COVID waiver permanent. Pennsylvania has gone from over 300,000 volunteers in the 1980s to less than 30,000 today - our Volunteers need our support to help them to continue to serve our communities!
I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this important and timely legislation. 

Introduced as HB2097