Organization Title


EMSA Dispatch September 2013

Director's Message: Howard Backer, MD, MPH, FACEP

The first annual West Coast National EMS Memorial Bike Ride was a 4-day, 260 mile ride initiated by the “Muddy Angels.” The ride started on September 23, 2013 in Reno, Nevada and concluded at the Capitol in Sacramento on Thursday, September 26. There were many riders and support persons who traveled from out-of state to bring this ride to the West Coast.

The group has several objectives for organizing these rides:

1.    to highlight the recognition of EMS as a profession;

2.    to remember EMS professionals who have died in the line of duty;

3.    to emphasize the need to reduce debilitating injuries and line-of-duty deaths in EMS; and

4.    to promote a national EMS accountability system.

From a personal perspective of someone who loves to bike, I wish that I could have accompanied the riders in remembrance of fallen EMS professionals. At the closing ceremony, I had the honor of addressing the riders, and those remarks are shared below in this issue of the EMSA Dispatch.
Muddy Angel Logo

"I commend you for your ride, not only because of your own strength and endurance, but for carrying the memory of our colleagues, and shining a light on the risks of EMS. EMS professionals are both health care providers and rescuers. They extract patients from wrecked cars, mountains, mines, or their own-homes and businesses. They provide initial treatment and transport them to the optimal site for definitive care.

Few people stop to think about the inherent risks of EMS and how dangerous this can be. EMS professionals work in all conditions and all environments. These environments, whether on the street or in a home, are either entirely uncontrolled or only partially controlled. There are also risks with the associated activities the EMS professional is supporting such as firefighting, tactical law enforcement support, or other specialized environments like mountain rescue.

So today, we honor colleagues like

·        Belinda Rivers who died when her ambulance was involved in a crash in South Carolina.  

·        Andy Olesen who died in medical helicopter accident in Illinois, 4 shifts away from retirement.

·        Glen Doherty, naval paramedic and state department security who died in a terrorist attack at his post in Libya.

Bill Foster, EMT ski patroller at Alpine Meadows who died in an avalanche while performing avalanche safety operations last winter. Bill’s death hit particularly close to me because my daughter was also an EMT ski patroller working with Bill at Alpine meadows.

While we can advocate and make changes in safety designs and procedures for air medical and ground ambulances, we will not succeed, nor would we want to change the nature of EMS providers or their willingness to take risks for their patients or for their own satisfaction in life.

Your 260 mile bike ride captures the spirit of our fallen and active colleagues who go all out with an energy, endurance, and commitment to their profession and their personal passions, even in the face of known risk.

Far from irreverent, this type of event captures the qualities of the EMS profession, celebrates the lives of our past colleagues, and takes inspiration from their commitment. Thank you for taking the time to honor and remember those who have died, and push for improved safety where we can make a difference for ourselves and for our current and future colleagues. "

Visit their Facebook page here.

CPR Training Coming to a Sidewalk Near You

By Robin R Robinson

Your hands have the power to save a life.

Free hands-only sidewalk CPR training was taught to almost 7,000 Los Angeles County residents on June 4 during National CPR week, which was held in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the American Heart Association (AHA).  Sudden cardiac arrest happens when the heart malfunctions and unexpectedly stops beating.  It’s different from a heart attack, in that it’s an “electrical” problem in the heart rather than a circulatory one caused by blocked arteries.  It claims the lives of 360,000 people in the United States and more than 90% of these people will die before they reach a hospital (according to the AHA).

The instruction, which is a simple two-step technique, took place in more than 80 locations throughout the city including:  shopping malls, grocery and home improvement stores, hospitals, colleges and community centers.  Hands only CPR requires no mouth-to-mouth contact as standard resuscitation efforts have in the past.  When performed correctly (clasping your hands and pushing down rapidly between the nipples on the chest to the beat of “Staying Alive” by The Bee Gees) hands only CPR keeps blood flowing to the heart and brain, which can significantly increase a victim’s chance of survival. 

Cathy Chidester, director of the Los Angeles County EMS Agency states “sidewalk CPR sends a powerful message of what can be done in a single day when people work together…and is a fast-growing movement to empower bystanders to save a life.”

A similar event took place in Ventura, California where hundreds of people learned CPR or brushed up on their skills.  Steve Carroll, EMS administrator for Ventura County states ”seventy percent of Americans feel helpless to act when they witness a cardiac arrest because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has lapsed.”  Doctor Angelo Salvucci, medical director for the Ventura County Public Health Department  says  “…mouth-to-mouth is unnecessary because lungs and blood contain enough oxygen to keep vital organs healthy for the first few minutes after a person has gone into cardiac arrest.”

To watch an instructional video on hands only CPR visit


EMSA Welcomes New Employees

Saya Miyoshi Muñiz recently joined EMSA's Fiscal, Administration, & IT Division as the new full-time Human Resources Analyst.

Saya graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Hospitality Management degree.  While in college, Saya held internships at Walt Disney World in Florida and worked in Human Resources at various hotels.  Saya comes to EMSA with over four years of experience working in the Human Resources Office at the Department of Finance. 

Jeffrey Hayes recently joined EMSA as an Office Technician and is new to state service. Jeff comes to EMSA from the Campbell’s Soup Company. He will be responsible for various duties including opening mail, processing address changes, accounting processes and he will act as a receptionist for the Paramedic Licensure Unit.

Todd Frandsen recently joined EMSA’s Disaster Medical Services Division, Response Resources Unit as the new Health Program Specialist 1 and is new to state service.  Prior to accepting the position with EMSA Todd served for two years as the Region 3 Regional Disaster Medical Health Specialist (RDMHS), supporting 13 counties. As the RDMHS, Todd was instrumental in ensuring effective and timely medical and health resource coordination in the Region. Todd also played a key role in developing partnerships and agreements between Agencies to enhance the Region’s ability to plan for and respond to disasters. In addition, Todd is a certified EMT and has over fourteen years of experience working for the American Medical Response (AMR) providing medical care in response to 911 calls. Todd also has six years experience as a fire officer supporting Shasta County Fire. Todd is operations-minded and enjoys all aspects of Emergency Response and brings a great deal of experience to his new role in the Disaster Medical Services Division.

Ruby Raines recently joined EMSA as the new Basic Life Support (BLS) Coordinator in the Personnel Standards Division. Ruby comes to EMSA from Cal PERS where she was responsible for emergency management, response and planning.

Ruby will be working as the BLS Coordinator, which develops and revises regulations, analyzes legislative bills, provides technical assistance to the local EMS agencies and certifying entities regarding AED, public safety first aid/CPR and EMT and AEMT training and certification standards.

She is a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and volunteer for various organizations such as the ASPCA, Wreaths Across America and the UCD Body Donation Program.


Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Form Revisions

By Adam Morrill

On June 19, 2013 the Commission on EMS recommended approval of revisions to the EMSA approved Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form. The POLST form has been updated and will be effective April 2014.  Changes to the POLST form were coordinated by the Coalition for Compassionate Care and interested stakeholders. A majority of the changes to the form were minor, including language clarification and reorganization. 

Due to the reorganization and changes in relevant portions of the language, it was also necessary to update the Statewide Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Guidelines.  Currently the Guidelines are being revised by EMSA staff and will soon be released for an informal public comment period.  After comments are received and any changes are made, the Guidelines will be submitted to the Commission on EMS for approval at the regularly scheduled meeting on December 4, 2013.

Health Information Exchange Summit

Pre registration is  now available for the upcoming Health Information Exchange (HIE) Summit discussing the nexus of EMS and HIE. 

Visit our HIE website for more information.


Did You Know...

EMSA works to ensure quality patient care by administering an effective, statewide system of coordinated prehospital care, injury prevention, and disaster medical response. We work in partnership with 33 local EMS agencies, public safety and private provider agencies, and health care systems, and many other partners.

In California we have:

  • 60,000 licensed EMTs
  • 19,000 licensed paramedics
  • 3,600 ambulances and more than 50 air medical vehicles
  • 3 million EMS responses annually

Golden Guardian 2013 Disaster Medical Response Exercise

First implemented by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004, Golden Guardian, California’s Annual Statewide Exercise Series, has become the most comprehensive state-level exercise series program in the country. The goal of Golden Guardian is to exercise and assess emergency operations plans, policies, and procedures for all-hazards/catastrophic incidents at the local, regional, and state levels.

The theme of this year’s event was a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. The fully federally-funded exercise included more than 250 participants including medical professionals, students, and trained disaster responders.

Ambulance Strike Teams transported “patients” to one of two medical Alternate Care Sites in cooperation with disaster response teams from Stanford, SCRIPPS, and Tenet Health Systems as well as Disaster Healthcare Volunteers and Medical Reserve Corps personnel. “This is as realistic as you can get in training,” said Dr. Howard Backer, EMSA Director. “Although we plan for disaster response year-round, there is no substitute for putting medical personnel and equipment into action in a full-scale exercise with a realistic scenario to ensure readiness.”

The three days of activities included mobilization, deployment, training and exercising of the following response assets:

• Specialized California Medical Assistance Teams comprised of medical and administrative disaster responders from Stanford, SCRIPPS and Tenet Health Systems delivering patient care in an Alternate Care Site (ACS).
• Disaster Healthcare Volunteers and Medical Reserve Corps personnel delivering patient care in a second ACS.
• Alternate Care Site caches containing medical equipment that can be set up in any non-medical structure to provide basic medical care for patients after a disaster.
• A Mission Support Team.
• Two (2) Ambulance Strike Teams (ASTs).
• A California National Guard C130 aircraft.
• California National Guard medical teams.

Visit event photo gallery on our Facebook page.


2013 EMS Awards Ceremony

Brave. Dedicated. Willing. Reliable. These words describe the 78,000 licensed or certified EMS providers in California. They demonstrate these qualities every day by coming to the aid of others when they are most in need and ensuring that the EMS system works well. But each year, due to circumstance or extraordinary effort, certain individuals among us shine. The EMS Authority seeks to recognize those individuals through California Emergency Medical Services Awards.

Nominations have been collected for praiseworthy acts or accomplishments that occurred between October 1, 2012 and September 6, 2013. The awards program honors special accomplishments, meritorious and heroic acts, innovations or fresh ideas to improve EMS in the state, or other unique and/or significant contributions by EMS personnel, physicians, nurses, EMTs, other medical providers, local officials, members of the law enforcement community, citizens, and first responders.

The nomination deadline for this year was September 6th. EMS providers, supervisors, and managers were encouraged to nominate any deserving individual for recognition.

Event registration opens in mid October.  For additional information about the EMS Awards Ceremony, visit our website or call Robin R Robinson at 916-322-4336, ext. 447.

Community Paramedicine in California

By Lisa Witchey

Interest and support for Community Paramedicine continues to build in California.  With the recent release of the paper titled Community Paramedicine: A Promising Model for Integrating Emergency and Primary Care (July 2013), by the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement, EMSA has followed by releasing a Letter of Intent aimed at soliciting proposals to test Community Paramedicine throughout California.

features links to both the UC Davis policy options paper, and the Letter of Intent. Proposals can be submitted by EMS providers and healthcare agencies in collaboration with a local EMS Agency.  Proposals were due to the EMS Authority on September 30th.

We are also pleased to be working with Mr. Lou Meyer, project manager for EMSA’s Community Paramedicine pilot project.  The California Healthcare Foundation has provided grant funding to support the project manager position, and is reviewing additional grant proposals to further support California's efforts to fully evaluate Community Paramedicine.

Questions regarding Community Paramedicine can be directed to Lou Meyer at (916) 431-3709.



Jennifer Lim
Policy, Legislative, External Affairs

(916) 431-3700




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