Maryland Crews Respond to Save Medevac, Fire Programs

ANNAPOLIS -- Fire, rescue and EMS personnel from across Maryland responded to the state capital Wednesday for a life-saving measure. They came to keep the state's world renowned EMS and Medevac system alive as well as save the fire and rescue...

Simeon Klebaner, a paramedic who flies with the Park Police, said Maryland should be proud of its Medevac program.

A former supervisor with EMS in New York City, he said for-profit helicopter programs often don't think about the patient first.

That's not the case, however, in Maryland. Here, patients come first, he said.

Under an MOU, Park Police handle missions when the state police helicopters are busy. Another bill would create an executive branch Department of Emergency Services, and eliminate the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) and the state EMS Board.

Other agencies that would come under this cabinet position would include Maryland Fire Rescue Institute (MFRI), shock trauma and Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

MFRI director Steve Edwards said it's imperative that his agency keep its ties with the University of Maryland as it has since the 1930s. "There is no fire service group or state agency that supports these bills." In the past four years, MFRI has conducted a number of firefighter safety studies funded by more than $3.2M in FIRE Act grants.

Funds so vital for research projects may not be available if the agency comes under a new umbrella, he said.

Keeping MFRI in the UM system also assures college credits for those who take their classes. Last year, 36,745 fire, rescue and EMS personnel were trained in the myriad of programs offered.

Edwards and Bass as well as officials from other agencies targeted by the legislation stood silently Wednesday as others took the podium. Next week, they say they will address law makers about their concerns, and how it will impact the Maryland system.