Licensing volunteer paramedics hasn't been done in Utah before, but a proposal to do so appears to have the support it needs in Duchesne County.
Being a paramedics in metropolitan areas is a full-time job, but in rural Duchesne County, it's a paid volunteer position.Local paramedics must be sponsored by a licensed entity before they are allowed to administer their complete range of medical skills at the scene of an accident, in a search-and-rescue situation or on an ambulance transport.
Three months ago, a proposal to license the county's seven paramedics under the Uintah Basin Wilderness Rescue and Medical Response Team drew so much opposition that the application was yanked at the start of a public hearing to discuss the matter.
Now, Uintah Basin Medical Center Assistant Administrator Roger Marett says strategies have been revamped so that the hospital will serve as the paramedic sponsor. EMS organizations in the county have discussed the proposal and given their full support, according to Marett.
Duchesne County Search and Rescue and EMT Associations weren't against giving paramedics the opportunity to use their knowledge, but they weren't happy about being left out of discussions that shaped the previous proposal.
They also expressed apprehension about how a paramedic license would affect responsibilities of EMTs and emergency medical services in the county.
Those concerns have now been addressed, reported Randy Bartola, medical center EMS coordinator and a paramedic himself.
"All problems with the other proposal have been addressed, and there's been ample time for discussion," Bartola said.
The countywide EMS organization voted unanimously last month to support the new proposal as it is written. The application has been submitted to the state EMS Committee for review. Feedback from the state has been supportive, Marett said.
The hospital's licensing application proposes to allow local paramedics to be utilized throughout the county in the capacity of first responders. Given the limited number of paramedics it will be impossible to provide total paramedic coverage of any area in the county, but if a paramedic is available anywhere in the county, regardless of where he lives or where he is at the time of the call, if he can make it to the scene, he can function as a paramedic, said Dr. Steve Pehrson, medical director for UBMC Emergency Medical Services.
Duchesne County has six EMT Associations. The county's seven certified paramedics live in Fruitland, Altamont, Duchesne and Roosevelt.
The hospital seeks the license on a three-year trial period. A public hearing will be held before the license can be approved.