New Law Lets Rural Illinois Ambulances Offer Advanced Care - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

New Law Lets Rural Illinois Ambulances Offer Advanced Care

Posted: Updated: Jan 16, 2014 09:42 PM

A new law in Illinois is changing the face of emergency medicine. It will allow you to get paramedic level care even if ambulances in your community are licensed at a more basic level.

First responders say this change in the law will change patient outcomes for the better. Before this, crews arriving on a scene may have had the training to administer advanced care, but weren't able to. Now, when minutes matter, they'll be able to get right to work.

Amboy Fire Chief Jeff Bryant tell us, "There's always been patients that you always wondered if." What if advanced level care sooner could have saved a life? It's a question rural first responders may not have to ask much longer, thanks to a new law that lets EMTs provide the highest level of service they are trained for, even if their department's ambulance is licensed at a more basic level.

"I think it's gonna be a huge difference," Lt. Jeffrey Bryant, Jr. says. For four paramedics at the Amboy Fire Department, and their patients. "If we get chest pain, trouble breathing, that automatically requires ALS," says Bryant, Jr.  Advanced Life Support. Something this Lieutenant is trained for.

His crews will roll on a call. But since Amboy is a Basic Life Support level service, "All we can really do for 'em is like a chest pain, is give baby aspirin and oxygen." They'll also call a more advanced department to intercept a rig on the way to the hospital and maybe start an IV or a more aggressive medication. Chief Bryant says, "I can just tell you when ALS gets on scene at a major accident, your level of anxiety reduces."

And the hope is that successful outcomes increase. Dr. Susan Gould, EMS Medical Director for KSB Hospital, says, "Even if just one person gets the drug earlier or gets the electricity earlier, whatever they need earlier, and if that's your loved one, it makes all the difference in the world."

But one that could take up to a year to see. While Illinois' Governor signed the law, the state's Public Health Department must write rules and regulations. 67 resource hospitals in 11 EMS regions must write policies. And dozens of departments must buy equipment and implement their own plans.

At the same time, Chief Bryant says, "Instead of thinking of this happening ten years from now, we know it's probably within a year of our grasp."

Galesburg Representative Don Moffitt has worked for months to make this happen. Meantime, Iowa has had a similar law in place for years, what Medic's Community Relations Manager calls "Provisional Paramedic".