Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Bill would cut EMTs' retraining

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — A bill designed to keep emergency medical technicians (EMTs) from quitting rural and heavily volunteer fire departments sailed through a House committee Tuesday, passing with a unanimous vote.

        The bill, approved by the House Health and Welfare Committee, will reduce the amount of training EMTs must complete for recertification from 72 to 24 hours every two years.

        In the past year, an estimated 1,900 EMTs have quit rural and small suburban departments that rely on volunteers because many did not have the time to take the 72 hours of training now required, said Southgate Fire Chief Marc Muench, a state-certified EMT instructor who testified before the committee.

        “We feel that in addition to the nearly 2,000 that we lost last year we will continue to lose a substantial number of EMTs,” if the training is not reduced, Mr. Muench said.

        The bill, sponsored by House Majority Caucus Chairman Rep. Jim Callahan, D-Wilder, will also return oversight and administration of the training to the state. Currently, recertification for EMTs is handled through a contract with a private firm from Columbus, Ohio.

        But even though the number of hours of training will be reduced, the EMTs will actually be better trained because the curriculum will be more focused, Mr. Muench said.

        “We have no curriculum at the current time,” Mr. Muench said. “Theoretically, an EMT could recertify over and over and over without taking some critical curriculum such as recognition of heart diseases or diabetic emergencies.”

        Committee member Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, called the legislation “a real good bill.”

        “Down in my district, in a rural area, we have several volunteer departments that have certified EMTs,” Mr. Arnold said. “They have full-time jobs and to require them to go to school for a week for a refresher course is ludicrous.”

        The bill could go to the House for a full vote later this week or early next week.


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