Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/16/1997 09:07 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            SB 164 AUTHORITY OF EMERGENCY MED TECHS                            
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  called the Senate Health, Education & Social                
 Services Committee (HES) to order at 9:07 a.m. and introduced                 
 SB 164  as the first order of business before the committee.                  
  BETH HAGEVIG , Staff to Senator Wilken, read the following Sponsor           
 Statement into the record:                                                    
 Senate Bill 164 repairs a long overdue shortcoming in our public              
 safety network.  Specifically, it provides EMTs with appropriate              
 and relevant authority at the scene of an accident as well as                 
 during responses to medical emergencies in homes, without creating            
 potential conflict between emergency personnel.  SB 164 is intended           
 to protect EMTs who arrive first on the scene of an accident or               
 medical emergency, or who are the only emergency responders to                
 arrive for some time, as is the case in many rural areas.                     
 Currently, we ask emergency medical technicians to perform actions            
 necessary to their duties such as:                                            
 *controlling and directing activities at the scene of an accident;            
 *temporarily blocking or redirecting traffic to avoid the scene of            
  an accident;                                                                 
 *trespassing upon property in order to respond to an emergency                
 *entering a building, including a private residence, or premises              
  where report of an injury or illness has taken place; and                    
 *directing the removal or destruction of a motor vehicle or other             
  thing in order to prevent further harm to injured or ill                     
 without giving them the proper legal authority to do so.  By taking           
 for granted that EMTs are expected to perform these duties in the             
 absence of any legal authority, we leave hundreds of men and women            
 vulnerable to the lack of cooperation on the part of the public and           
 potential liable suits.                                                       
 Alaska relies heavily on its emergency medical personnel,                     
 especially in rural areas where law enforcement and fire personnel            
 are relatively few in numbers.  Just as we expect EMTs to protect             
 our safety in an emergency situation, we should reciprocate this              
 service, and give EMTs the proper legal authority to do their jobs            
 without compromising their personal safety.                                   
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  referred the committee to the information in the            
 packet which detailed the levels of EMTs in Alaska.   BETH HAGEVIG            
 noted that ETTs although listed with the levels of EMTs, are not              
 technically EMTs.                                                             
 Number 094                                                                    
  CRAIG LEWIS , Alaska EMS Association and Interior Region Emergency           
 Medical Services Council Inc., urged the support of SB 164.  Mr.              
 Lewis believed that the committee packet included documents                   
 regarding cases in other states where EMTs without this authority             
 were injured and held liable after the fact.  The EMTs in rural               
 settings perform those duties listed.  Mr. Lewis noted that                   
 customarily there is a responsible person in charge, sometimes                
 called the Chief Medic.  SB 164 does not compromise nor conflict              
 with any existing law enforcement or fire fighting authority.                 
 SB 164 provides legal protection for EMTs responding in locations             
 where the trooper response is delayed or there are no volunteer               
 fire fighters to assume the role.                                             
  SENATOR GREEN  referred to line 14 on page 1 when noting that during         
 the Millers Reach fire lots of people began directing traffic                 
 without consistent identification that resulted in fist to cuffs              
 and later arrests.  In SB 164, what provides consistent                       
 identification of those in authority?   CRAIG LEWIS  pointed out that         
 SB 164 is not designed to deal with a wild land fire circumstance             
 as in Millers Reach.  Mr. Lewis believed the bill to address motor            
 vehicle accidents or illnesses in homes.  The majority of EMTs are            
 in uniform or wear some sort of patch.                                        
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  did not want just anyone to claim to be an EMT and          
 end up directing traffic.  Should SB 164 contain language                     
 indicating the need for EMTs to carry identification or wear a                
 uniform in order to know that the person is truly an EMT if                   
 challenged?   CRAIG LEWIS  acknowledged that the involvement of               
 bystanders and the question of challenging of the EMTs is                     
 complicated.  The EMTs have credentials and cards which explain the           
 certification as well as uniforms.  EMTs are trained in dealing               
 with the public.  The definitions and standards defining an EMT               
 seem to already address the issue of identification.                          
 Number 213                                                                    
  ELLEN WOFFORD , EMT-III with Delta Rescue Squad, supported SB 164.           
 Many EMTs are volunteers and therefore may come upon a scene and              
 not be in the uniform, but do carry badges and perhaps have a hat             
 indicating the person's EMT status.                                           
  TOM DEAN , Chief of the Tok EMS, believed he was sort of responsible         
 for this legislation because he questioned whether Alaskan EMTs had           
 authority after reading an article discussing a similar situation             
 in another state.  SB 164 addresses what is done on a regular basis           
 by EMTs.  Mr. Dean noted that in his area, EMTs often arrive 30               
 minutes to an hour before troopers at motor vehicle accidents.                
 SB 164 merely gives authority to EMTs to do what they are already             
 doing.  Mr. Dean encouraged the passage of SB 164.                            
  MARK JOHNSON , Chief of the Section of Community Health & Emergency          
 Medical Services in DHSS, informed the committee that the Section             
 of Community Health & Emergency Medical Services was responsible              
 for planning, coordinating, and implementing a statewide emergency            
 medical services system which includes the certification of all               
 EMTs and ambulance services.  With regard to ETTs, those persons              
 are not equivalent to EMTs.  ETTs, first responders, would not be             
 covered under this statute.  Mr. Johnson explained that if someone            
 is certified by his section then, that person would receive a                 
 certificate, a wallet card, and patches.  Mr. Johnson supported               
 SB 164.                                                                       
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  inquired as to the number of people involved from           
 the EMT-I level to MICP.   MARK JOHNSON  stated that approximately            
 4,000 people are certified statewide.                                         
 Number 295                                                                    
  SENATOR WARD  asked if SB 164 was enacted, would Martin Buser be             
 sent to jail if during an emergency situation an EMT told him not             
 to go home and he did.   BETH HAGEVIG  said that she would have to            
 confer with legal on that issue.  Placing EMTs as enforcers was not           
 the intent of this legislation; the intent was to give EMTs the               
 authority to do what they are already doing.  In general when EMTs            
 arrive on the scene, the EMTs rely on law enforcement to perform              
 enforcement duties.                                                           
  SENATOR WARD  restated his question.   BETH HAGEVIG  noted that SB 16        
 was modeled after the fire fighter authority legislation in which             
 there is a penalty if a fire fighter's instructions are disobeyed.            
 Ms. Hagevig reiterated that she would need to confer with an                  
 attorney on this matter.                                                      
  MARK JOHNSON  believed that there was no enforcement authority with          
 SB 164.  The reason for SB 164 is to protect EMTs; most EMTs do not           
 want enforcement authority.  Mr. Johnson also deferred to legal               
  SENATOR GREEN  believed Mr. Johnson, but noted that during an                
 ongoing emergency the functions between the various responding                
 groups can become blurred.  This legislation may not be the proper            
 place to address this issue, the ability to deputize.  Senator                
 Green referred to lines 3 and 4 on page 2; is that a typical                  
 standard?   MARK JOHNSON  believed that if EMS receives a call then           
 that gives EMS reasonable authority to enter on the basis of that             
 call.  This simply clarifies that.   BETH HAGEVIG  reiterated that            
 SB 164 was drafted almost verbatim from the fire fighter authority            
 In response to Senator Ward,  CRAIG LEWIS  reiterated that the intent         
 of SB 164 was to provide authority not enforcement.  In general,              
 persons who violate statutes are penalized and if SB 164 becomes              
 law then the penalties relevant to that would apply.  There is a              
 $1,000 fine for failing to comply with a fire fighter's                       
 instructions which is specifically stated in that legislation.                
 That is not stated in SB 164.                                                 
 Number 383                                                                    
  SENATOR WARD  asked if all persons covered under SB 164 were                 
 required to carry photo identification.   CRAIG LEWIS  said no,               
 although most have a card issued by the state which identifies the            
 person and level of skill.   MARK JOHNSON  also replied no to Senator         
 Ward's inquiry.                                                               
  SENATOR WARD  noted that police officers are not always in uniform,          
 but do have identification beyond a badge, a cap, or a patch.   TOM           
 DEAN  reiterated that in the Millers Reach fire, EMTs would not be            
 in control in such a major fire.   SENATOR WARD  informed everyone of         
 another situation in which a person with identification took                  
 control of an emergency situation and instructed those present to             
 move away from the victim.  Unbeknownst to the EMT person, one of             
 the bystanders was a relative.  Without the proper identification,            
 the situation could have been very difficult.   TOM DEAN  assumed             
 that there was a reason that there were instructions to separate              
 the people from the victim.                                                   
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  redirected the conversation to the question of              
 identification.   MARK JOHNSON  reiterated that all the certified             
 EMTs are issued a wallet card, patches and a certificate.                     
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  asked if adding language requiring that the EMT             
 certification card be carried, which is not a photo identification,           
 would address the identification concerns.   SENATOR WARD  suggested          
 that a specific background or designation on the person's drivers             
 license could be utilized to signify their EMT status.   MARK                 
 JOHNSON  deferred to the DMV, but did note that SB 38 would require,          
 in addition to the organ donor specification, a Do Not Resuscitate            
 order as well.  If SB 38 passes, that is a lot of information on              
 the drivers license.                                                          
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  suggested that SB 164 be held to work on this               
 matter.  SB 164 was held to Friday's agenda.                                  

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