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FOR RELEASE: May 17, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

EMS Day at the State Capitol is May 23

Emergency medical services workers from throughout the state will be recognized at a ceremony on the south steps of the State Capitol on Wednesday, May 23, at 11:30 a.m. The ceremony is part of observances scheduled for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week, May 20 to 26.

Rep. Paul Roan, author of this year’s EMS legislation and a champion for EMS, will speak at the ceremony and recognize the efforts of the Governor’s EMS Task Force and the sacrifices made by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who have been injured or died in the line of duty.

Every EMS provider in Oklahoma is invited to send at least one uniformed representative to the ceremony to participate in events which will include a color guard, an EMS helicopter fly-by, an awards ceremony and Roan’s address.

“Access to quality emergency care is essential to improve the survival and recovery of those who experience sudden illness or injury. We salute the Oklahoma EMS system which consists of emergency physicians, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, firefighters, educators, administrators and others,” said Secretary of Health and State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

“EMS services are as important as fire and police protection for the public safety of Oklahoma citizens. Thousands of providers work tirelessly across the state making more than 300,000 runs a year while receiving little pay and recognition for their life-saving efforts,” said Greg Reid, chairperson of the Governor’s EMS Readiness Task Force.

The Governor’s EMS Readiness Task Force Report, released earlier this year, called for the following recommendations to improve Oklahoma’s EMS system:

  • Funding:
    • Give communities the ability to provide sufficient subsidy to support quality EMS.
    • Establish a state fund to assist regional EMS systems to evolve to a sustainable level.
  • Recruitment and retention:
    • Offer state tuition reimbursement for people who complete emergency medical technician (EMT) training and agree to work in Oklahoma EMS.  
    • Offer state funding to EMS training institutions for rural outreach and EMT program accreditation.                    
    • Offer EMTs and paramedics the same retirement and line-of-duty death and tax benefits provided to police officer and firefighters.
  • Medical Direction:
    • Provide medical director training and development.
    • Provide for confidentiality of quality improvement activities to protect services and medical directors against lawsuits.
  • Preparedness:
    • Improve communications systems.
    • Form public/private partnerships to secure federal preparedness funding.
    • Organize state-sponsored regional response teams.

“We are disappointed that pending legislation including HB 1615, SB 531 and HJR 1014, which were all designed to help improve and fund the EMS system in Oklahoma, will have to wait another year for possible action. However, we are encouraged that the public seems to be hearing our message,” said Reid.

For more information about activities planned during EMS Week, May 20-26, contact Shawn Rogers, director of Emergency Medical Services at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 405-271-4027, or your local EMS agency.

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