Grant funding implications of the Field EMS bill

While some debate its purpose, this bill redefines EMS in the federal government, establishes grant programs and helps determine how funding is delegated

On Feb. 25, 2013 Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) introduced H.R. 809 “Field EMS Quality, Innovation, and Cost Effectiveness Improvements Act of 2013.” Better known in the industry as the Field EMS bill, it’s designed to provide for improvement of field emergency medical services, and for other purposes.

Many debate what that means, and are uncertain of what the bill actually does.

At its core, this bill:

  • Defines the term "emergency medical services" and “field EMS agency."
  • Recognizes the Department of Health and Human Services as the primary federal agency for emergency medical services and trauma care.
  • Establishes the Office of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma as responsible for "improving the quality, innovation, or cost effectiveness of emergency medical services," including delegating grant programs.
  • Creates a National EMS Strategy.
  • Establishes the System Performance, Integration, and Accountability (SPIA) grant program.

While some within EMS argue that the bill does not do enough or will not have a legitimate effect on daily operations of EMS, I challenge those to take another look at the actual document.

This bill attempts to redefine the foundation for EMS in the federal government.

Since 1966 when a convergence of political and medical actions focused the national interest on motor vehicle crashes, EMS has been placed under the Department of Transportation. At the time it seemed appropriate; it now has created an identity crisis for EMS.

Is EMS public safety or public health?
This bill establishes that we are both, saying not only do we protect the public, but we also need to integrate ourselves into public health to allow a change in our culture.

It provides a clear definition of who we are and what we do for legislators and the public. It progresses us towards integration into the public health system by placing us under the Department of Health and Human Services, with our own office to create a centralized point for education, research, and funding.

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