Bill Would Address Shortage of Emergency Medical Personnel in Rural Communities
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today cosponsored a bipartisan bill, S.1060, the Veterans to Paramedics Transition Act, introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) that would streamline civilian paramedic training for veterans who already have emergency medical experience from their military service, making it easier for them to secure jobs as paramedics when they return home. The bill would also work to help reduce the shortage of emergency medical personnel in many rural communities.
“When our service members return home, we have a responsibility to help make their transition to civilian life as smooth as possible,” Bennet said. “Many veterans have valuable skills from their time in the military, and this bill will help those with emergency medical experience utilize that knowledge to become paramedics. It’s a commonsense approach to helping our veterans provide for their families.”
Rural communities in Colorado and around the country have long faced critical shortages in emergency medical personnel, threatening the safety of rural residents. Meanwhile, thousands of men and women in the military receive emergency medical training as part of their duties. For example, most Army combat medics are currently certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) at the basic level. When these veterans return to civilian life, however, their military-based medical training is often not counted toward training and certification as civilian paramedics. Many existing programs require all students to begin with an entry-level curriculum. For veterans, this means spending extra time and money for training that, in effect, they have already received. The Veterans to Paramedics Transition Act would authorize federal grants for universities, colleges, technical schools, and State EMS agencies to develop an appropriate curriculum to train these veterans and fast-track their eligibility for paramedic certification.
This bill has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including the American Ambulance Association, the American Heart Association, the National Rural Health Association, and the National Volunteer Fire Council.
Bennet has worked tirelessly with Colorado’s veterans community to look for ways to improve services and job opportunities for returning service members. Last year, in response to a recommendation from his statewide Veterans Working Group, Bennet created a Veterans Suicide Panel to take a comprehensive look at mental health issues affecting veterans and develop concrete recommendations for addressing the issue. And last summer, he introduced the bipartisan Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act to improve incentives for private employers to hire veterans.
In 2011, Bennet convened a Colorado Veterans Forum to identify ways to make Colorado the best state for service members, veterans, and their families to live and work. The recommendations that emerged from that forum were included in a report released later that year, Better Serving Those Who Have Served.