By Assemblyman Warren Petryk
The Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations held a public hearing on several bills including one I authored with Senator Sheila Harsdorf, Assembly Bill 289, which would exempt out-of-state emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, responding to a mutual aid request, from Wisconsin licensure requirements. This legislation is good, bipartisan, public policy that will help ensure timely arrival of emergency services from licensed providers responding to a mutual aid request.
This idea was brought forth to both myself and Senator Sheila Harsdorf by several constituents from both the 93rd Assembly District and the 10th Senate District. These constituents stressed the importance of legislation to facilitate mutual aid agreements between border states and Wisconsin which will ease the licensing burden of those out-of-state providers. My special thanks go out to Mr. Jeff Rixmann, Director of the River Falls EMS Service, for his insights and expertise to help move this legislation forward.
Mutual aid agreements are vitally important in offering the best available care as well as prompt response time from emergency medical personnel. In March, the Department of Health Services authored a memo to EMS providers clarifying that at this time, Wisconsin does require all EMT’s to hold a Wisconsin license in order to provide ambulance or EMT services in Wisconsin.
Some EMS providers in our districts have mutual aid agreements with providers in Minnesota. This allows them to respond to need in Wisconsin during an emergency when the need exceeds the capacity of local responders. Because of the low number of instances where a Minnesota based provider responds to request for mutual aid, the requirement and cost to obtain dual licensing is not justifiable and seems to be a redundant and obtuse mandate.
Assembly Bill 289 was drafted to protect mutual aid agreements while also protecting the citizens of Wisconsin by exempting from Wisconsin licensure requirements out-of-state emergency medical service providers who are responding to calls of mutual aid. Out-of-state providers who hold a valid license in their home state would be able to provide necessary services in Wisconsin without the need of a Wisconsin license when responding to a call for mutual aid.
Assembly Bill 289 is good public safety legislation and I believe, based on what I observed at the committee hearing, that the members of the committee agree.