Emergency Medical Services Sustainability Task Force (EMSSTF)

The Idaho EMS Sustainability Task Force is a comprehensive group of subject matter experts working together to find solutions to the challenges facing those who provide the emergency medical response throughout Idaho.
Next Task Force Meeting - Friday December 15th, 2023 - 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM MT

IN-PERSON or VIRTUAL | 11331 W. Chinden Blvd., Building 8, Boise, ID 83714


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 response is available throughout the state.

EMS Planners
A team of six contracted EMS Planners has been created that will work with the 44 counties to conduct environmental scans and document:
- Current EMS response capabilities, and
- Best practices, and
- Resource requirements for a sustainable, reliable EMS response

Visit the EMS Planner site for information about them, their efforts, and their progress.
Task Force Representation

The Task Force is comprised of the following: Idaho EMS agencies, EMS educators, EMS Physicians Commission, Fire Departments, Association of Counties, Blue Cross of Idaho, Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, County Commissioners, Idaho Hospital Association, Idaho Office of Group Insurance, Idaho House of Representatives, Idaho Fire Chief's Association, Idaho Sheriff’s Association, Medicaid, Pacific Source, PERSI, Professional Fire Fighters of Idaho, EMS Directors, College of Western Idaho, and County Commissioners from neighboring states.

When the task force commenced the summer of June 2022, three work groups were identified to work toward fulfilling our mission. The original work groups, Coverage, Governance, and Personnel made substantial progress throughout the remaining months in 2022. This progress required the task force to identify new focus areas and reorganize the work groups to ensure we are well prepared for the 2024 legislative session.

The work groups for the task force are as follows:

Communications: Develop a comprehensive communications list and create public outreach materials

Wages & Benefits: Determine compensation models, benefits for personnel, and establishing a thriving wage.

Billing & Revenue: Optimize the current billing system and aim for chart writing compliance.

Funding: Identify potential funding sources, grant model application process, payor reimbursement, regionalized purchasing power, and county requests for assistance.

Innovation: Utilizing healthcare models to expand roles to improve access to care and to avoid duplicating services such as CHEMS and telemedicine, while addressing quality improvement, education, and accountability.



EMS Day at the Capitol Flyers - EMS Day at the Capitol took place on Monday January 23, 2023. It was an opportunity for legislators and state officials to learn about EMS, how it is delivered to Idahoans, and the challenges the system faces. Click the button below to see the information displayed and distributed during the event. 

DRAFT Resolution for 2023 Legislative Session - Updated 11/02/2022

EMSSTF Talking Pointsinformative document that provides description of the Emergency Medical Services Task Force (i.e. overview, mission, vision, background, work plan, and work groups).


Town Hall Reports – Town Hall meetings were conducted throughout Idaho to explore solutions to the challenges hindering the recruitment and retention of volunteer emergency medical services personnel. Reports contain a wealth of information from these meetings to inform changes in the future.


Office of Performance Evaluation (OPE) Report – Evaluation of improvements to EMS administration and examine policies to address challenges in recruitment and retention of EMS volunteers.


Essential Service


Statutes, Rules, Laws


Incentives/Funding Alternatives (i.e. health insurance programs, pensions, tax incentives


Idaho’s Population


Additional Resources

  • EMS Agenda 2050 A people-centered vision for the future of Emergency Medical Services is the  culmination of a collaborative and inclusive two-year effort to create a bold plan for the next several decades. The EMS Agenda 2050 lays out a vision for EMS systems that serve the needs of patients, families, clinicians, and communities.
  • Emerging Digital Technologies in Emergency Medical Services: Considerations and Strategies to Strengthen the Continuum of CareAimed to provide a broad review, analysis, and identification of opportunities for the EMS community to address digital technology developments and offerings.
  • National Rural Health Association (NRHA) Policy BriefThe ideal emergency medical services (EMS) system involves dispatching the right EMS provider from the right location to provide timely and, if necessary, life-saving interventions followed by transport to an appropriate hospital. The reality for many rural patients is vastly different. Although many factors contribute to challenges in delivering optimal rural EMS care, issues related to the workforce are some of the most pervasive. Understanding the nature, function, and role of rural EMS and the individuals who provide the care is necessary to drive legislative and regulatory priorities.
What is an essential service?
  • A service or function that is required to maintain the health and safety of a community.
Is Emergency Medical Services (EMS) identified in Idaho statute as an Essential Service?
  • No
What does EMS not being an essential service mean for Idahoans?
  • You or someone you know could be in an accident or having a medical emergency. If pre-hospital care or medical transport is needed, there is no guarantee that EMS will be able to respond or arrive in time depending on where the accident occurred.
What does it mean if EMS is made essential?
  • This would mean that EMS will be funded similarly to services like law enforcement.
What would this all change?
  • Currently there are multiple issues facing long-term EMS sustainability. The system, as it stands, is fractured and its longevity is not foreseen. The system is relying on volunteers, that are leaving the profession. The number of new paramedics has remained relatively the same over the past few years even with the booming population. EMS agencies and providers also face a variety of inconsistent funding streams; lack of educational and training opportunities; population growth; change in demographics, and changes to rural and urban areas.
What is the EMS Sustainability Task Force (EMSSTF)?
  • The EMSSTF is comprised of over 20 different agencies (EMS Personnel, legislators, county commissioners, insurance reps, and other stakeholders). Their mission is ensuring that this system works for the structure, function, and people it is intended for.
What is the EMSSTF trying to accomplish?
  • Our mission is the longevity and sustainability of EMS in Idaho and to ensure prehospital patient care is available and timely to those who need it.
Where can I find more information?