Calif. EMS Providers Urge Residents to Vote ‘No’ on Bill Restricting Patient Care

By EMSWORLD

Sacramento, CA—American Medical Response (AMR), a provider of 9-1-1 emergency ambulance services, launched an online media campaign June 19 in opposition to AB 263, authored by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez. AB 263 places patient care at risk by seeking to restrict or eliminate private EMS providers from operating in the state, according to AMR.

The standard practice of EMS is that the closest ambulance to an emergency responds because patient care takes precedent to rest and meal breaks, the news release states. AB 263 would prohibit that standard.

The online media campaign ‘Lives Before Lunch’ highlights the limitations AB 263 puts into place. Its purpose is to educate members of the public to the dangers of the bill, and urge them to contact their legislators to vote “NO” when it comes before them.

As written, AB 263 is an unprecedented political power grab, according to AMR, and will heavily penalize private—but not public—employers of EMTs and paramedics for break interruptions during responses to disasters, and prevent or delay responses to medical emergencies. It requires private emergency responders to release their employees from patient care duties even if it places patient care at risk, and allows private EMTs and paramedics to walk away from their ambulances and station houses while on duty, the release states.

Putting that into perspective, private EMS providers were the primary paramedic ambulance service that responded to the San Bernardino shootings, the Asiana plane crash and the Oroville Dam evacuation. AB 263 will impact future responses to major events like these and potentially shut down EMS systems in some of California’s poorest counties.

Only 6% of AMR’s workforce misses a meal period during their shift, according to the release. Under current law, when a meal period is missed employees not only receive their paid lunch break compensation but also an additional hour of pay for not having their lunch break rescheduled. Employees that have rest breaks that are interrupted and not rescheduled are also issued an hour of additional compensation, but this impacts less than 1% of the workforce because 40% to 60% of our crews’ shift time can be spent inactive, not providing patient care or responding to an emergency.

Sorrick concluded, “AB 263 defies common sense. The bill essentially says that it is more important for an EMT or paramedic not to have their lunch interrupted than it is to respond to a medical emergency or disaster. However, public safety and responding to emergencies just doesn’t work that way. AMR plans to continue our public and legislative campaign in various venues to highlight the dangerous consequences of AB 263.”

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