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Vitale, SWEENEY BILL to Track, Analyze Medical Response to Opioid Overdose Cases & Other Emergencies ADVANCES

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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Health Chairman Joseph F. Vitale and Senate President Steve Sweeney to establish a system to track and analyze EMS response to medical emergencies, including to residents suffering from an opioid overdose, was approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

“Emergency responders are the first point of contact for many residents who are suffering a medical emergency, and the care provided on site and upon arrival to a medical facility is vital. This will allow for enhanced data tracking in order to improve the EMS system of care in our state,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “It will allow us to track and analyze EMS response to emergencies, which can be used to make improvements to the system of care overall but also to provide real-time patient data to hospitals to allow for improved treatment once a patient arrives. Additionally, as we work to address the opioid epidemic, this system can help to identify where overdoses are occurring, trends in the use of naloxone, and other information that can help improve our response and treatment of those suffering with addiction in our state.”

“EMS response is a critical part of our health care system – for so many residents, the care provided at the scene of an emergency can literally be the difference between life and death. Collecting and analyzing data is vital to evaluating how these systems are working, but also to making any improvements necessary both in the short term and into the future,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland).

The bill (S-5) establishes certain requirements for emergency medical services providers and dispatch centers to report to the state. Under the bill, each EMS provider that provides pre-hospital emergency medical care to patients in the state – including basic life support ambulance services, mobile intensive care units, air medical services and volunteer and non-volunteer first aid, rescue and ambulance squads – will be required to report to the Department of Health certain information concerning each incident in which the entity provides emergency medical services.

The report provided to DOH would be required to include information such as the date, time, and location of the encounter, the nature of the emergency, including the number of people involved, the outcome of the encounter, including whether each person was treated, refused additional treatment, was transported to a hospital or health care facility or another EMS provider, or if any person died. EMS dispatch centers would also be required to report certain information such as time, date and location of the request for services as well as the nature of the circumstances of the emergency, and the EMS provide dispatched.

The state Health Commissioner would be required to establish a system to allow for the electronic reporting of EMS dispatch and response information pursuant to the bill.  The purpose of the electronic reporting system is to record and track data concerning the types of medical emergencies for which emergency medical services are requested, patterns in timing and location of requests for emergency services, patterns in the type of emergency medical services provided and patterns in dispatch and response activity.

Additionally, 24 months after the effective date of the bill, the commissioner will have the option to track and record response times for EMS providers. The commissioner, in consultation with the currently constituted Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council, will be required to adopt rules and regulations establishing quality performance metrics and pre-hospital protocols for emergency medical service providers which will be based on the data that was tracked under the bill.

Finally, the bill requires the commissioner to establish, maintain and coordinate the activities of the New Jersey Emergency Medical Services Task Force, which will support and enhance the provision of specialized response services, utilizing personnel and equipment to respond to pre-planned and emergency events, including natural disasters and other incidents.

The committee approved the bill by a vote of 8-0. It next heads to the Senate for a vote.