Update on Pennsylvania Regulatory Exceptions and Act 17 Provisions: EMS Information Bulletin 2022-08

From the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services

This EMS Information Bulletin (EMS-IB) supersedes all previously published EMS-IBs related to COVID-19 exemptions as a result of the Disaster Declaration or continuance thereof.

Effective at 11:59 pm June 30, 2022, all regulatory exceptions issued as part of the COVID-19 disaster declaration will expire. This means that all crews must meet legal staffing standards as of July 1, 2022. Any agency that is currently using out-of-state providers to fulfill staffing requirements must immediately stop the use of these providers effective 11:59 pm, June 30, 2022.

However, the Bureau of EMS (Bureau) recognizes the need to evaluate staffing models and has reviewed all authorities granted to the Bureau. As such the Bureau is authorizing all Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances in the Commonwealth to staff utilizing the provisions of Act 17 of 2020 without making application to the Department, utilizing the provisions outlined below.

Act 17 of 2020 amended the EMS Systems Act to permit the Department of Health (Department) to grant exceptions to the ambulance staffing standard for Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances.

Pursuant to the Act, exceptions were only to be granted in cases where there were extraordinary reasons and in the best interest of the EMS system and patient care.

On July 6, 2020 the Bureau of EMS (Bureau) issued EMSIB 2020-27 Act 17 of 2020 BLS Ambulance Staffing Exceptions. This document established the general criteria and process for staffing waiver applications.

Despite the termination of the declaration of disaster emergency, the Department finds the continued effects of COVID-19 as well as staffing shortages are impacting the overall EMS system and constitute an extraordinary circumstance.

As a result, and in the best interest of the EMS system the Department is issuing the following staffing exception in accordance with its authority outlined in Act 17 of 2020.

Exception 1:
At the time of patient transport, a BLS ambulance must be operated by a certified Emergency Medical Services Vehicle Operator (EMSVO), and the patient must be attended by an EMS provider at or above the level of an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).  This exception is effective immediately and will remain in effect until this EMS-IB is superseded or voided by the Department.

Please direct any questions regarding this memo to your regional council.