The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has updated the rules for emergency medical service (EMS) personnel and agencies and REACT EMS Director Greg Reid played a role in that process.

The rules went into effect Sept. 11 to help ensure Oklahomans receive quality time-sensitive care from OSDH-licensed personnel and agencies.

License standards for emergency medical personnel, ambulance services and certified emergency medical response agencies were updated, with changes making OSDH rules consistent with Oklahoma law and national standards. 

Reid, who said the state has regulated EMS and providers of care since the early 1980s, said the original rules, which were modified and adapted with many add-ons over the years, were last rewritten about seven years ago.

Reid, who is Gov. Mary Fallin's appointee to the Oklahoma Trauma and Emergency Response Advisory Board, represents EMS administrators. In that role, he was among those those who started at the beginning to go over the rules and begin reorganization. He served as chair of the rules workbook committee.

“It was a very good move to reorganize and reformat,” he said, adding while there are no new regulations, everything is organized and easy to find.

The OSDH reports that updated personnel license types are the emergency medical technician (EMT) and the advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT). The EMT and AEMT updates reflect changes in terms and standards at the national level. The modifications expand the services EMTs and AEMTs are allowed to provide to patients.

The requirements for emergency medical response agencies (EMRAs), previously known as first response agencies, were consolidated but the minimum standards were unchanged.  EMRAs provide medical care less than ambulance services and more than basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of the automated external defibrillator (AED). 

EMRAs work under the supervision of a medical director and have a sponsoring EMS transport agency. EMRAs often are seen in Oklahoma at public events like rodeos, football games and motorcycle races providing emergency medical care such as administering oxygen to patients.

As part of the update, OSDH reformatted and consolidated the rules around the various license categories to make it easier for EMS personnel and agencies to find their applicable requirements. 

“It reaffirms and makes clear the standards,” Reid said, adding the public benefits by knowing those who operate an ambulance or transport service can't operate without a license to meet state standards.

"The State Department of Health is grateful for the EMS community and other providers of time-sensitive care who assisted in developing the rule changes," said Brandon Bowen, manager of the Emergency Systems section of OSDH. "They contributed valuable time, energy and ideas during a three-year process to update the rules. OSDH could not have accomplished this without their support."

Unaffected by the rule changes are fire departments and other first responders who render only basic first aid, CPR and AED service, according to Bowen. Responders working at that level do not need an OSDH license.

REACT EMS covers most of Pottawatomie County from Meeker to the South Pottawatomie County, as well as the Prague area. Crews respond to 12,000 calls every year, with 55 to 58 employees staffing five ambulances 24 hours a day and a sixth and seventh ambulance used during peak times.

For more information and a complete outline of the updated rules please visit http://ems.health.ok.gov.