Texas EMS & COVID-19: What We Know
Texas is officially managing multiple COVID-19 cases and escalation is expected over the coming weeks. As Texas EMS increases its response, here are the things we know.
Texas COVID-19 Cases
There are 57 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Texas at the time of publication.
Governor Abbott expects this number to increase as testing increases. Texas EMS personnel, both rural and urban, have been active in treating and transporting the COVID-19 patient via 911 and inter-facility transports.
Harris (10), Ft Bend (9), and Dallas (8) Counties have the highest number of confirmed cases to date.
Texas EMS Preparation
A survey of membership found a wide range of COVID-19 preparation within Texas EMS.
Other members, however, report limited communication regarding COVID-19 operations, little knowledge about the CDC Interim Guidelines for EMS response, and no communication about potential staffing situations or quarantine.
All EMS personnel are encouraged to speak with their employers about COVID-19 operations. The Texas EMS Alliance is an excellent resource for any agency needing assistance.
Texas EMS Education
Almost all Texas EMS education programs are suspended or operating via adapted delivery models until further notice.
CoAEMSP released a statement offering increased flexibility during closures. Some programs are turning to distance education or assignment based education to complete the semester.
Many EMS clinical sites have suspended EMT and paramedic ride-outs due to student safety and the need to preserve PPE. Programs will be providing extensions for those affected.
The Texas EMS Educators Summit, a large provider of educator CE, is postponed until a later date. Many additional CE courses around the state have been cancelled due to social distancing.
National Registry Renewal
The National Registry of EMTs (NREMT) has extended its renewal date from March 30, 2020 to June 30, 2020.
NREMT has removed distributive education limitations and will allow all continuing education to be allowed outside of the classroom (ie: web based) due to the impact of social distancing.
Texas and the Interstate EMS Compact
The EMS Compact is operational as of March 16, 2020.
The EMS Compact enables EMS personnel in member states to practice in other member states without needing additional licensure or certification.
The Compact was opened due to increasing first responder quarantines around the country. Texas is one of twenty states participating in Compact membership.
Texas EMS Economic Impact
The Texas EMS event industry took a major hit with recent closures and cancellations. One owner reported 90% of his revenue being lost due to the cancellation of athletic events and festival season.
The unknown end-date for social distancing may create significant downstream issues for EMS businesses covering special events.
EMS personnel are reporting restrictions regarding secondary employment.
Some agencies are restricting personnel from working PRN positions at other EMS agencies in order to reduce potential COVID-19 exposure and transmission. This may create financial constraints for individual providers and staffing issues for agencies dependent on PRN personnel.
Texas Blood Shortage
The Texas blood supply is heavily dependent on school blood drives. The closure of school districts and universities has significantly impacted the state’s blood supply.
All Texas EMS providers are encouraged to assist their local blood banks to fill the blood and prevent a severe shortage.
Upcoming ATEMSP Events
ATEMSP will continue monitoring COVID-19 operations and examining the impact on all domains within Texas EMS. A workforce survey will be administered this week to gain a greater understanding about Texas EMS and assess what downstream effects may occur.
We are so proud of our Texas EMS personnel and their unwavering public service.
If any Texas EMS personnel would like to share information about their experience, please email firstname.lastname@example.org .