EMS Day on the Hill – Part 2

Needed to focus on Denver this past week but still want to share more from EMS on the Hill day.

My morning started the night before when I got on the airplane and after finally getting into DC from Dulles Airport (an hour in traffic and $70 cab ride later) I grabbed my packet at the front desk. The packet was handed out the night before at the informational dinner where folks got a primer on when their appointments had been made. Additional information about how to act and what to expect from lawmakers and their staffers was also covered. I missed it all but thankfully the California delegation brought me up to speed, and fast. If you’ve never done advocacy, the NAEMT gives you a crash course.

Just before meeting with the California delegation I ran into the hotel restaurant for a quick breakfast and saw a group of friends walk in the door.
EMS 2.0 pins were proudly worn by Scott, Random, Natalie and Meris as we shared a long overdue greeting and smile.
In between bites of egg and sips of coffee I was rifling through my schedule for the day. What I thought would be only 3 meetings (My Congressman and the 2 Senators) was suddenly 8. I had no idea where I was going or half the names I was going to be meeting with. My research into Garamendi, my Rep, had me excited because he was paramount in establishing California’s EMS Agency in the 1970s and has supported EMS bills state wide since.

Our first meeting took us into one of the three large buildings, past offices from many of our 50 states to the last one at the end of the hall with the US and California flags aside the doors.

Our first meeting was with the staffer from Henry Waxman’s office,Congressman from Los Angeles.  We took a seat at the table and went into our topics.

There is a strict format we were supposed to follow.  Introductions, “asks” and thanks.

Yeah…no.

We offered literature from the NAEMT that explained our positions on legislation and a few pages about what an EMT is, how many of us there are etc etc, but I wanted our visits to be memorable and make an impact.  It is likely everyone tries this, but I had to give it a shot.

Into the folders, somehow, a Chronicles of EMS patch and card fell and each person we met with immediately felt it  and smiled.

“That’s cool!” our first staffer proclaimed when we concluded the meeting.  He had to tell at least one other person, right?

There were 3 main pieces of legislation we focused on (the descriptions are from my thank you letters):

HR 1668 extends federal death benefits to private paramedics and EMTS who die in the line of duty. The same benefits awarded to their governmental counterparts. It shouldn’t matter who employs us, but the job we do for our communities. The CBO reports the costs are completely offset by DOJ forfeiture. There is a similar bill in the Senate and it appears to be part of the FAA bill.

 

HR 607 supports expanding the D-Block Broadband for Public Safety. Imagine if your entire office had to share a dial up modem. That is what public safety is forced to do using the narrow band of traffic available to us at the present time. Most recently as the San Bruno gas explosion, fire and rescue radio systems were overwhelmed and unable to function. Commanders resorted to cell phone and messenger. We deserve better and if a large earthquake strikes, the Third District deserves fire and rescue who can communicate to help them.

 

HR 1005 supports increasing medicare payments to ambulance companies. Currently ambulances are reimbursed BELOW the cost of service causing many private companies to close and many municipal agencies to restrict services to the community. HR 1005 seeks to increase the funding 6% per the GAO report.

 

When speaking to a Senator’s staff we had other bills to reference and each office we met with, save one, was receptive and sent staffers who already knew details about the bills we mentioned.  We even learned about recent developments and were able to share it with the larger group later in the day.

Speaking of larger group, check out this photo!

EMS on the Hill 2011I’m the tall guy WAY in the back.

More on how to tell which staffers think you are a waste of time and why missing this event next year is a mistake soon.

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