Fire Fighters Oppose Creation of Separate Federal EMS Administration
The IAFF and several other leading fire service organizations have developed a consensus position opposing the recent proposal to establish a new EMS Administration within the Department of Homeland Security.
The proposal, offered by single-role EMS providers, recommends raising the current level of representation that emergency medical services (EMS) receives within DHS. The IAFF, along with the International Association of Arson Investigators, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Fire Service Training Association, National Fire Protection Association, National Volunteer Fire Council and the North American Fire Training Directors, is arguing that a separate administration would only serve to fractionalize emergency response systems.
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff dated May 23, 2005, the group of fire service leaders wrote, “As the organizations which represent a substantial majority of EMS in this country, we fervently believe that the proposal would have a detrimental effect on EMS and undermine all progress made to date within DHS to coordinate and consolidate homeland security policies and programs consistent with the mission of your department.”
Furthermore, none of these fire organizations – which represent the nation’s fire service at the national level – support the proposal to create a separate federal agency dedicated exclusively to EMS issues. Instead, fire service organizations support working within the framework of the federal government that now exists to address EMS issues. This framework includes the U.S. Fire Administration, the National Highway Traffic Administration, Health and Human Services and many others. Fire service groups also support enhancing the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services – as proposed in Congress – to address EMS issues.
A Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) report released in support of the proposal overstates the role of single-role EMS providers, claiming that only 44 percent of EMS systems are fire-based when, in fact, among the 200 most populous cities surveyed, 90 percent reported that fire service personnel provide medical first response.
In addition, the HSPI report maintains that EMS providers receive only four percent of the first responder funding allocated by DHS, but neglects to include fire-based EMS from its definition. In fact, EMS qualifies for and receives funding through a variety of DHS programs, including the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The HSPI recommendations would redirect homeland security funding to for-profit and hospital-based transport agencies.
“EMS is only one component of an emergency response system, and creating a separate federal entity for EMS would balkanize emergency response and diminish the role of the U.S. Fire Administration,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “We must recognize the existing infrastructure for EMS within the federal government, use it where it has been successful and coordinate its activities both at the federal, state and local levels.”
Because of the lack of support from any nationally recognized fire service leader and the opposition of several national EMS organizations, the IAFF and the other fire service groups have called for an open and public discussion within the first responder community to address this issue.
Click on http://daily.iaff.org/images/Media20...5EMSletter.pdf to download a copy of the letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff.