SPRINGFIELD – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon joined state Rep. Don Moffitt (R-Gilson) and state Rep. Lisa Dugan (D-Bradley) today to issue recommendations that will help improve rural emergency medical services. The recommendations were generated after 17 hearings of the Illinois House of Representatives’ Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Task Force were held last year.
“During an emergency, every second counts,” Simon said. “Rural Illinois residents may travel up to 30 miles or more to reach the appropriate hospital. It is important that emergency medical technicians and paramedics who are treating patients during long transports are well-trained and have access to the best technology. I would like to thank the Task Force members for their hard work as we move forward with implementing some of these recommendations.”
Lt. Governor Simon testified in Galesburg in favor of increasing the availability of high-quality online training for EMTs and paramedics to improve employee and volunteer retention. Emergency medical service providers are required to complete 120 hours of continuing education every four years to renew their license. Currently, only 25 percent of that can be completed online, but the Task Force agreed with Simon that the offering should be increased. The Task Force also recommended that evaluation of that training should be based on performance, rather than only the hours completed.
“While the work of this current Task Force has been completed, the job is not finished. As our communities continue to grow and change and technology continues to advance we must continue to reach out to local emergency responders to make sure they have the tools they need to keep local families safe,” Moffitt said.
“It was an enlightening and enjoyable experience working with EMS personnel throughout the state of Illinois and Rep. Moffitt. I look with anticipation to the state moving forward to recognize and address the EMS needs throughout this state, so they can continue to provide a valuable service for the people of the state of Illinois,” Dugan said.
The Task Force also discussed the implementation of new federal EMS educational standards so that emergency medical technicians who have obtained licenses in Illinois are able to use them in other states. Additionally, the recommendations included a proposal to simplify licensing for ambulances. Rather than renewing licenses annually, if implemented, providers could obtain licenses lasting two to four years contingent on annual state inspections.
Lt. Governor Simon is the chair of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council. Enhancing EMS is a part of the council’s strategic plan for rural Illinois.