Capitol Update

by Senator Howard Marklein

April 26, 2024

Rural EMS Results

The Potosi Rescue Squad, Inc. recently announced that Jessie Gavinski received her Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) certification with a waiver for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam. This exam has been an obstacle for recruitment and retention among many of our small, rural EMS departments.  I was very excited to see Potosi’s successful recruitment using the waiver that Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and I fought for in the legislature.
Rep. Tranel, Rep. Todd Novak (Dodgeville) and Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) and I have been working with rural EMS departments for the last several years to help with recruitment and retention of volunteers, as well as clearing obstacles for volunteer EMS in our communities.  Our small, rural EMS departments have been struggling and we have been working with them to provide relief and support.
The top issue we heard about at our EMS Summits was the irrelevance and difficulty of the NREMT exam, especially for EMRs. This exam was causing great volunteers to give up. As a result of our work, the NREMT exam is now optional for EMRs, at the discretion of the local EMS department.

Please note, this change is entirely up to the local EMS department. They can decide whether they want EMRs to take this test – or not. EMRs will continue to be tested and trained in order to be certified, but a local department can waive the NREMT exam requirement.
Departments that want to do this do not feel that this exam proves anything. They believe that the training and testing done in EMR coursework is more indicative of abilities. But, again, this is entirely optional and some departments may choose to continue requiring the NREMT exam for EMRs.
Another major result of our work is that the statewide EMS Board is now recruiting two rural members. Rep. Tranel and I authored a bill that requires this statewide, policy-making board to have two members who can be the voice for rural, volunteer EMS departments. The Governor is now accepting applications to fill these two new seats! Please apply!
Rural EMS providers who are licensed below the Paramedic level and serve on a volunteer department (or multiple volunteer departments) which serves a rural area are now able to apply for the two newly created seats on the Wisconsin EMS Board. Rural is defined as an area for which the population of the largest single municipality in the volunteer department’s service area is less than 10,000.
Apply here: https://evers.wi.gov/Pages/Application_Process.aspx. Qualified and interested candidates should complete the Boards and Commissions Application on the Governor’s website. The new members of the EMS Board will be appointed by the Governor for three-year terms.
The goal of this new law is to give our rural, volunteer EMS personnel a seat at the table when policy changes are considered and training and renewal requirements are set. I continually hear about how rural, non-paramedic voices are often overshadowed when policy decisions are considered and made. This new law gives rural Wisconsin a voice!  You can learn more about the EMS Board and its roles and responsibilities here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/ems/boards/index.htm Please share this opportunity with your friends and colleagues in EMS as well!
If you are a rural EMS volunteer, please contact me and I will add you to my Rural EMS email list so that you will be sent this type of information directly.
Again, we are creating results for rural EMS.  I am so proud of our work together and look forward to making further headway in the next legislative session.  If you have any ideas for ways to improve rural EMS, please contact me right away. We are working on this plan right now.
As always, if you need assistance with any state-related matters, please call our team at the State Capitol – 608-266-0703 – or email me – Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov.  My team is ready, and willing, to help navigate your state government, clear obstacles and receive your input.