Emergency Medical Services Task Force releases a report on equitable and sustainable access to emergency medical services

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GLENDALE (9/1/23) – The Emergency Medical Services Sustainability Task Force completed the EMS System Sustainability Report, which evaluates Colorado’s emergency services and outlines recommendations for strengthening the system throughout Colorado.   

A 2022 law required CDPHE to establish the task force, which equally represents rural and urban areas of Colorado and calls on the expertise of many in the emergency services fields. The recommendations are special to the task force – and are not drafted as recommendations from CDPHE. 

The task force is charged with issuing regular reports and recommendations on standards for ground and air ambulance services – topics are to include equitable access, staffing and retention, and sustainable funding.

“I am grateful that so many emergency medical service experts devoted their time and expertise to this report. When there’s an emergency, we all expect care immediately regardless if we are in a rural area or near a metro area,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, CDPHE executive director.

The task force’s independent recommendations include:

  • Ensuring adequate funding for statewide licensing of ambulance services: Allocate necessary resources to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing maintenance of ambulance service licensing from counties to the state.
  • Examine data accessibility: Examine current laws and regulations to identify mechanisms for improved data accessibility for the task force and support evidence-based decision-making.
  • Designate EMS as an essential service: Designate and resource EMS as an essential service in Colorado, and implement a collaborative approach of ongoing system planning and coordination between local governments and the state. 
  • Continue to conduct a comprehensive statewide EMS systems analysis: Allocate resources to support an ongoing statewide assessment of existing out-of-hospital emergency medical services to help pinpoint potential disparities in access to ambulances, identify fragile or unsustainable EMS services, and locate coverage gaps.
  • Establish an equitable coverage process: Carry out mapping and an evaluation of the existing EMS response service zones to identify gaps and ensure optimal coverage for all Colorado communities. 
  • Conduct workforce planning study: Conduct a thorough analysis of Colorado’s EMS workforce, with a specific focus on sustainable workforce planning, to help address workforce shortages. 
  • Evaluate true costs: Examine the cost of providing emergency medical services, particularly in rural and frontier settings, to get an accurate understanding of the economic challenges EMS providers face and determine where future funding could be best used.
  • Enhance the Consultative Visit Program: Authorize and direct additional funding to enhance and better resource the program to help Regional Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Advisory Councils and communities transition to sustainable EMS models, especially in rural areas.

The task force’s work will be completed in five total phases and culminate by 2027. 

Refer to the EMS system sustainability task force web page and CDPHE’s Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division web page for more information.