Organization Title


December, 2013 EMSA Dispatch!

Directors' New Year's Message: Howard Backer, MD, MPH, FACEP


Happy New Year and Greetings at the start of 2014!

I offer my best wishes to each of you for the New Year. This is a season when many of us reflect on the past year, while looking forward to the coming one.


Last Year in Review

In 2013, many strides were made in the areas of EMS personnel, disaster medical services and our EMS system. Here are just a few things we accomplished together:

  • Regulations to update the scope of practice for EMTs and Paramedics;
  • Credit card acceptance for paramedic licensure fees, childcare first aid, CPR, and preventive health training fees, with on-line transactions coming in 2014;
  • Community Paramedicine Pilot Project proposal developed with LEMSAs and submitted to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development;
  • Conducted a highly successful Golden Guardian Disaster Exercise at Moffett Field with more than 20 organizations/agencies and 300 participants;
  • Held the first Health Information Exchange Summit focused specifically on EMS;
  • Commended over 20 EMS heroes and recognized 80 EMS awardees with 2013 California EMS Awards.

Challenges in 2014

As the Affordable Health Care Act takes effect in January 2014, the full impact to the emergency medical services field still remains uncertain. Additionally, as the health care industry adapts to the reform changes, many shifts in health care delivery will unfold in the coming months. Our challenges will be to:

  • Help define the role of EMS in health care reform;
  • Determine how to best integrate EMS into the evolving health care system;
  • Identify potential sources and methods of funding for statewide systemic improvement.

Our Way Forward

There are three keys to addressing any of our challenges.


Communication, both internal and external, will promote active and constructive discussion. We must engage and unify the EMS community to develop common goals and objectives. Although each EMS stakeholder has some unique needs, there are issues that we must solve together to shape EMS for the future, rather than letting others determine the future without our input. This requires us to approach opportunities with a fresh vision, unconstrained by past practices, and to communicate our vision with a single voice. It is through solidarity and perseverance that we have the discipline and influence to change legacy systems and benefit the future of EMS.


We have begun to create and maintain current and accurate information systems. Using compatible data constructs, we can measure key events that describe EMS activity and performance, enabling us to base decisions and develop protocols on scientific evidence, where available. Examination of our collective EMS systems through information in patient records can help define unique local variables and inform us on the elements for decision making at both the local and state levels.


One of the most important uses of data is for quality improvement. Health care reform is built on the foundation of quality, effectiveness, and efficiency. We can remain a transportation function in the eyes of the health care system and the policy makers, or we can demonstrate that we are an essential part of the health care provider network that adds value and benefits patient outcomes. This challenges us to be forward-thinking rather than simply focusing on the present.



Meeting the demands of today’s changing health care environment requires a unity and commitment from the EMS community. Stakeholders and employees at all levels in EMS must partner to ensure forward progress. Just as we perform with coordinated decisiveness and urgency for a medical emergency; we propose to move together boldly to demonstrate the value of EMS to the rest of the medical community.  It is a fact that true medical emergencies represent the minority of EMS calls.  We must prove equally effective and indispensable when responding to public requests for help during a perceived emergency or due to the uncertainty of how to access medical care. Likewise, we must be visible and willing to partner with other providers to help fill gaps in community health care needs. No matter what the task at hand, we must perform it with excellence and with compassion for the patient.


I, and all the EMSA staff, offer our sincere wishes for the continuing health and prosperity of you and your families in 2014.


Community Paramedicine Pilot Project Update


By Lisa Witchey


The EMS Authority received 27 proposals in response to the Letter of Intent to pilot CP through the Health Workforce Pilot Program. A full listing of pilot projects that have been provisionally accepted, including the concepts being tested, pilot locations and the LEMSA’s participating can be found on the homepage of the EMSA website, under Hot Topics.


With 13 pilot sites provisionally accepted, Project Manager Lou Meyer is now working to submit the Health Workforce Pilot Project application to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development for review.   EMSA will submit the application before the end of 2013, and anticipates receiving an approval decision by May 2014.


The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) has awarded a grant to fund the pilot project evaluation, which will be led by Janet Coffman of the University of California, San Francisco.  The evaluation grant is an important piece of the project, enabling the project to gather meaningful data to demonstrate the project outcomes. 


CHCF has also awarded a grant to fund standardized core community paramedic training.  A Curriculum Advisory group was convened to define competencies and develop a curriculum that will be used in this pilot, and hopefully can be used as a model curriculum for California.


EMSA would like to extend congratulations and appreciation to all of the EMS providers, Healthcare systems and LEMSA’s who are participating in this pilot project.  A tremendous amount of effort has been expended so far, and there is a lot more work to be done, but the outcome of this effort has the potential to fill gaps and improve access to care in our current healthcare system.



Epinephrine Auto-Injector’s for Lay Rescuers


By Lisa Witchey


SB 669 (Huff - R) Emergency medical care: epinephrine auto injectors was signed by the Governor and Chaptered by the Secretary of State October 2013. SB 669 authorizes an off-duty pre-hospital emergency medical care person or lay rescuer to use an epinephrine auto-injector to render emergency care to another person, as specified. The bill also authorizes EMSA to establish and approve minimum training standards, and review and approve training programs that provide training in the use of epinephrine auto injectors.


Planning efforts are underway to implement SB 669, including development of an information page on the EMSA website with an estimated implementation timeframe.  EMSA will be developing training standards, a training program review and approval process, certification for lay rescuers and will be working with the Office of Administrative Law to seek approval of regulations implementing SB 669.  EMSA will convene a workgroup of interested stakeholders and subject matter experts to assist us in developing training standards and regulations for the Epinephrine Auto-Injector training and certification program.


To receive updates on our planning efforts, please visit the Epinephrine Auto-Injector page on our website, and send an email to to be included in future updates as they are announced.



EMSA’s Children’s Health Champion


By Lucy Chaidez


The Safe to Sleep® campaign, formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign, has helped educate millions of caregivers—parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, babysitters, child care providers, health care providers, and others—about ways to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death.


Through outreach activities, collaborations, and partnerships, Safe to Sleep® has helped to spread safe sleep messages to millions of people in communities throughout the world. In addition, research supported and conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has broadened our scientific understanding of SIDS.


In 1994, the NICHD—in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, the SIDS Alliance (now First Candle), and the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs—launched the Back to Sleep campaign to educate parents and caregivers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.


On October 1, 2013, EMSA’s Child Care Training Program Coordinator -- Lucy Chaidez received official recognition as a “Safe to Sleep® Champion” for her extraordinary efforts to raise awareness about safe infant sleep practices and help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Lucy is an active advocate for children’s health issues and serves on the following working groups:

  • Safe Kids California Executive Board
  • Child Care Aware and Department of Defense California Child Care Regulatory Workgroup
  • State Emergency Infant Feeding Advisory Group (led by CDPH)
  • Child Abuse Prevention/Mandated Reporter Regulatory Subgroup
  • Early Childhood Education (ECE) State Collaborative Team; partnering with CDE and CDPH colleagues to implement CDC guidelines for nutrition and physical activity for children in early care and education programs
  • Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL)
  • State team member partnering with colleagues from CDE and WestEd Center for Child and Family Studies



2013 EMS Awards Ceremony


Twenty-three (23) Californians were honored for their heroic acts and extraordinary contributions to EMS on December 4th in San Francisco.


By all accounts, this year’s Awards Ceremony was a great success. The ceremony enjoyed the added benefit of widespread print, TV, social media and legislative recognition.


Launched in 2007, the annual awards honor and recognize exceptional acts and service by individuals working or volunteering in California's emergency medical system. EMS personnel are trained to provide stabilizing and lifesaving care.  These EMS awards are intended to honor and recognize noteworthy or exceptional acts and service while working as EMS certified or licensed personnel, administrators, trainers, or volunteers within the EMS system. The award period represents activities from September 8, 2012 through September 6, 2013 for cumulative service.


“I am pleased to recognize this select group of EMS professionals for their exhibited professional excellence and exceptional service,” said Director Backer. “These men and women epitomize the spirit and commitment to quality that embody these awards and deserve official recognition for their contributions in making California's EMS system one of the best in the world.”


Most of this year's awards were presented during a luncheon ceremony that followed the regular meeting of the Commission on Emergency Medical Services on December 4th in San Francisco at the Marines’ Memorial Hotel. Clinical Excellence Awards were presented at the recipients’ home stations.


This year's award ceremony was generously sponsored by American Medical Response, Bound Tree Medical, Paramedics Plus, California Ambulance Association, California Fire Chief’s Association, and the San Francisco Paramedic Association.


View this year's event program here, and event pictures here.



Health Information Exchange Summit


By Adam Davis


As part of grant funding received from The California Office of Health Information Integrity (CALOHII), the EMS Authority conducted a summit on health information exchange (HIE).  The two day summit, held in Los Angeles, CA on November 19th and 20th, hosted over 200 attendees including EMS service providers, local EMS administrators, medical directors, hospital representatives and software vendors.


Attendees were treated to an array of presenters who spoke about HIE from a national, state, local, and provider prospective.  The presentations focused on the history of HIE in California, a look into the direction HIE is going within healthcare, as well as success stories from local EMS agencies and service providers.  As part of the grant from CAL OHII, EMSA partnered with 3 local EMS Agencies on HIE related projects as well as contracted Lumetra Healthcare Solutions to conduct and HIE readiness survey. 


Administrators with each of the LEMSA projects presented a status update during the summit.  An update on the status of the survey was also presented by Lumetra. The summit concluded with a panel discussion about the future of HIE in California.  Both EMSA and the summit attendees were very pleased with the function and the buzz created by discussions and presentations. 


More information about the summit and the presentations can be found here.



EMSA Welcomes New Employee


Betsy Slavensky joins EMSA as an Office Technician in the Personnel Standards Division. Betsy comes to EMSA from Camellia Symphony Orchestra (and prior employment in the healthcare industry), where she was responsible for bookkeeping, office management and special projects.

Betsy will be working in the Child Care Unit, which approves and monitors first aid, CPR, and preventive health training programs for licensed childcare providers and will also support staff in the Enforcement Unit.


In her free time, Betsy enjoys travel, art, music, swimming and time with family and friends.  




Was the EMSA Dispatch forwarded to you? Join our mailing list.



Jennifer Lim

Policy, Legislative, External Affairs

(916) 431-3700


Connect With Us