NEW MADISON – Eric Burns, Chief of EMS for Tri-Village Rescue Services in New Madison, Ohio, was one of four Ohio EMS Chiefs to attend the National EMS on the Hill in Washington DC, sponsored by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.
The Ohio EMS Chiefs Association (OEMSCA) sent Burns to meet with lawmakers and address concerns for EMS nationwide. Nearly 200 EMS chiefs, directors, and providers from across the county met with lawmakers to ask for assistance in passing legislation to help EMS.
The Ohio group met with Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio District 7, Rep. David Joyce of Ohio District 14, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, and Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. In meeting with these legislators, they represented all EMS services across the country asking them to help support legislation such as the SIREN Act, which will give grant moneys to rural EMS services. Currently, there isn’t any federal funding going to EMS. The last federal money given to EMS was in 1974. The fire service has multiple federal programs awarding almost $371 million dollars a year to fire departments across the country, and the SIREN Act is only asking for 30 million a year to help small rural departments with equipment purchases, education, as well as recruitment and retention of future EMS professional’s for both paid and volunteer departments.
Burns said, “I found the whole experience so exciting, meeting with our nation’s leaders and sharing the problems that small departments like mine are having in funding and recruitment and retention of EMT and paramedics due to being in such a rural area. All the legislators and their staffs were very engaged and seemed to understand where we were coming from. I have been in EMS over 30 years and have seen so many changes in this industry and thanks to the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians; I was given the opportunity to not only voice my concerns but the concerns of all Ohio EMS Chiefs concerning changes in our industry.”
Burns added, “I also was honored to meet with chiefs and directors from across the country and share what’s working for them and what’s not, concerning funding, recruitment and retention of employees. Tri- Village Rescue Service is extremely fortunate at this time to have the truly dedicated staff that we do and I found out we were better off than other departments throughout the country.”
He believes it’s very important to help all volunteer services, whether it is EMS or fire departments, with the tax breaks and the additional grant funding for EMS equipment as these services try to make their tax dollars go further.