VACo expresses concerns over problematic PSAP dispatcher bill

January 23, 2020

HB 727 (Hope) mandates that all 911 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) provide training and equipment to every dispatcher in telecommunicator cardiopulmonary resuscitation instruction (TCPR) as well as Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) by January 1, 2022, and January 1, 2024, respectively. Though not opposed to the intent of the legislation, VACo staff expressed concerns over the potential fiscal impact of the legislation in the House Labor and Commerce Committee on January 21. The bill reported, 14-6.

TCPR and EMD are systematic programs of handling medical calls that allow trained telecommunicators to determine the nature and priority of the call, dispatch the appropriate response, and give the caller appropriate instructions to help treat the patient until a responding EMS unit arrives on the scene. The Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) currently maintains an EMD accreditation program or PSAPs and emergency dispatch centers to promote training and standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA).

As previously written, clear benefits exist to communities that adopt TCPR and EMD at their PSAPs. However, these upgrades to existing emergency dispatch services require local funding to implement and maintain. Rescue Squad Assistance Funds (RSAF) may be used to support the implementation of these upgrades, however this is a limited amount of funding to which localities across the state may apply, the grants are used to support a variety of needs including equipment, vehicles, and computers, and local match funding is required except in the most unique of cases.

According to OEMS, 96 cities and counties currently provide TCPR at their PSAPs. Similarly, 34 PSAP’s have yet to implement EMD, though two of these localities recently received RSAF funding to help implement EMD.

Though not opposed to the intent of the legislation, VACo staff expressed concerns over the potential fiscal impact for the remaining localities to meet the requirements that will be imposed by the legislation.

The bill now advances to the Full House. The Senate companion legislation – SB 720 (McClellan) – has yet to be given a hearing date in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett

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