Recommend policy solutions that will provide a sustainable EMS system that provides an appropriate, reliable response to medical emergencies throughout Idaho.
A sustainable EMS system that provides an appropriate, reliable response to medical emergencies throughout Idaho.
EMS in Idaho is provided within a framework of organizations (EMS agencies) that vary in patient transport and clinical capabilities. Some EMS agencies use paid, career response personnel while others rely on volunteers. While there is considerable variation in the staffing patterns, one consistent attribute is rural communities tend to rely on volunteers to staff their EMS agencies.
The total number of licensed EMS personnel has remained relatively stable over the past 15 years, but has not kept pace with the population growth in Idaho. It is worth noting that much of the increase in the numbers of licensed EMS personnel has been in the urban population centers while the number of EMS personnel in rural communities continues to shrink. If the current trend continues, many rural communities will be at risk of longer EMS response times due to the lack of EMS personnel. Communities that currently have a local ambulance service may have to rely on the ambulance service from a distant neighboring community.
There have been several efforts over to better understand the challenges facing the organizations and personnel who provide EMS in Idaho. The Idaho Office of Performance Evaluation (OPE) published a study in 2010 on the governance of EMS agencies in Idaho. In 2012 and 2018, the Bureau of EMS published reports detailing the concerns and possible solutions specific to volunteer EMS personnel. In 2021, OPE published a report on volunteer EMS providers that provides several actionable recommendations.
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee, Board of Health & Welfare and the Health Quality Planning Commission reviewed the findings of the latest OPE report. The Health Quality Planning Commission asked the Department to convene a Task Force to find policy solutions (including draft legislative language) that will help assure that a reliable EMS reponse is available throughout the state.