Tag Archives: legislation

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TAS | New ambulance laws make it illegal to identify oneself as a paramedic without proper qualifications

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New ambulance laws to increase protection for Tasmanian patients and paramedics have come into effect.

The Ambulance Service Act 1982 introduces specific offences for assaulting, resisting, impeding or failing to comply with the direction of an ambulance officer.

The CEO of Ambulance Tasmania, Dominic Morgan, said the new laws provide improved safety for patients, community and of course our staff working in the ambulance service.

“Our paramedics deal with challenging circumstances every day and they must be allowed to go about their work without fear or obstruction,” Mr Morgan said.

Importantly from 1 July 2014 it will be an offence for a person to call themselves a paramedic who does not have the appropriate qualification permission of the Commissioner of Ambulance Services to do so.  This will give certainty to Event organisers and the community that a person calling themselves a paramedic has the requisite skills and qualifications to care for them safely.

It will also be an offence to mark a vehicle with the word Paramedic if it is not being staffed by an approved, legally qualified paramedic.

Mr Morgan said new standards are also introduced for commercial non-emergency patient transport providers.

“Where there are operators engaged in non-emergency patient transport the new laws ensure they are doing so within a strong, transparent and safe legislative framework,” Mr Morgan said.

“All providers must meet certain standards, including skill and competency levels.

“Existing non-emergency patient transport providers have been consulted about the changes and will have a two-year phase-in period.

“A further consultation process will be held as the Regulations to underpin the Act are developed.”

The changes ensure Tasmania is up-to-date with contemporary standards with a focus on protecting patients and paramedics.

Ambulance and emergency management practice has advanced considerably over the past thirty years and the previous legislation did not give a contemporary definition of paramedics and non-emergency patient transport services.

Areas covered by the new laws:

  • Strengthen provisions dealing with offences against the Ambulance Service.
  • Increase the penalty for false ambulance calls from 10 to 100 penalty units.
  • Clarify the power to force entry to premises in emergency situations to reach someone requiring emergency assistance.
  • Define the role of paramedics and provide legal protection to the title and clearly distinguish between emergency response services and other forms of patient services such as non-emergency patient transport.
  • Provide a power of direction for paramedics and clarifies their legal right to enter premises if they believe ambulance services are required.
  • Clarifies the role of paramedics in relation to other emergency services
  • Provide a licensing and regulatory framework for non-emergency patient transport.
  • Expand the offence of representing a motor vehicle as an ambulance
  • Prohibit the unauthorised use of Ambulance Tasmania insignia, logo or uniforms and all types of vehicles as well as persons.

Victoria | New laws protect emergency workers from attacks

Offenders who attack police officers or emergency workers while they are carrying out their duties will face tough new sentences under legislation being introduced to Parliament today (25 June).

The increased sentences will apply to offenders who attack workers including police, ambulance officers, fire-fighters, protective services officers, SES workers or lifesavers, as well as nurses, doctors or other staff in hospitals who provide or support emergency treatment.

“Those who intentionally inflict serious injuries on police or emergency workers can expect to spend at least three years behind bars, while those who recklessly inflict serious injuries can look to spend at least two years in jail,” the Premier, Denis Napthine said.

“If gross violence is involved, attackers will face a minimum of five years in jail, while those who murder a police officer or emergency worker will be subject to a baseline sentence carrying a 30 year jail term. Attacks causing other injuries will incur at least six months in jail.”

The minimum penalties will form part of the offender’s minimum non-parole period, and will apply unless the offender can demonstrate there is a genuinely ‘special reason’ in limited and carefully defined circumstances, such as co-operation with law enforcement authorities or proven mental impairment.

“Victoria is fortunate to have many dedicated police officers, front line medical personnel and other emergency workers who devote their careers or hours of unpaid voluntary time to helping others.

“These laws recognise the important role those in the front line have in serving, protecting and caring for all Victorians,” the Attorney-General, Robert Clark said.

“When police and emergency workers put themselves on the line to help others, they deserve the community’s protection and support. An attack on a police officer or emergency worker is an attack on our whole community.

“Penalties for those who engage in these attacks need to reflect the seriousness of the crime. Under our reforms those who attack and injure a police officer or emergency worker can expect to end up behind bars.

“These laws will better protect emergency workers so they can go about their duties without threats, intimidation or violence.

“Everyone deserves the right to be as safe as possible when they go to work, especially those who willingly face very dangerous situations such as those involving drug and alcohol-fuelled violence,” Mr Clark said.

Illinois | Dentists allowed to administer flu vax under new legislation

Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to expand medical access to those in need by expanding volunteer opportunities by medical professionals and allowing additional qualified medical professionals to administer flu vaccines. Today’s actions are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all people have access to quality healthcare.

“Retired or inactive doctors healthcare professionals can and want to help those in need, and we should let them,” Governor Quinn said. “It’s just common sense to broaden access to health care, which is a fundamental right as a human being.”

House Bill 4593, sponsored by State Representative Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) and State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), authorizes the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to issue volunteer licenses to healthcare professionals such as physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurses, advanced practice nurses and optometrists who meet all licensure qualifications and who wish to volunteer at a free medical clinic for no compensation. The law waives the licensure fee for the first 500 volunteer licenses and afterwards allows for a fee waiver or fee reduction. A healthcare professional may not hold a non-volunteer license and a volunteer license at the same time. The new law takes effect immediately.

“As chairperson of the Health Care Licensing Committee, I am always striving to increase access to high quality medical care,” Representative Zalewski said. “I thank Governor Quinn for signing this bill as it will be an important step toward keeping Illinoisans healthy.”

“When it comes to health care access, Illinois is a study in contrasts — home to state-of-the-art hospitals and highly educated specialists, but also to chronically underserved urban and rural areas,” Senator Martinez said. “Today we are making it easier for medical professionals to serve vulnerable populations, and we’re saying thank you to those willing to work for the public good without compensation.”

“We look forward to providing retired professionals the credentials they need to continue their life-long commitment to providing health care, especially to Illinois communities that have a greater need for access to health care,” IDFPR Acting Secretary Manuel Flores said.

Senate Bill 3409, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Representative Laura Fine (D-Glenview), allows dentists with the appropriate training to administer flu vaccines to patients 18 years of age or older who have a prescription or physician’s order for the immunization. The new law takes effect immediately.

“The Affordable Care Act is allowing many more people access to health care,” Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “To help ensure we have the workforce needed to meet this demand, the state is identifying and implementing strategies to increase those able to provide health care – such as allowing dentists to administer flu vaccines.”

“In many parts of the state, locations that offer flu vaccinations are too few and far between. This new law will increase access to flu shots for Illinois families and hopefully, reduce the number of flu outbreaks in our communities,” Senator Manar said. “I’m pleased the Governor signed the bill, and I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support.”

“Difficulty obtaining access to care can be a frustrating roadblock to good health,” Representative Fine said. “This bill will create a new, convenient avenue for patients to receive an important and sometimes lifesaving immunization. It will allow people greater opportunities to protect themselves against the flu.”

Today’s bill signing took place at the Third Mission of Mercy, an Illinois State Dental Society Foundation event where dentists from across Illinois volunteer for a weekend to provide free dental services to those in need.

Governor Quinn has long supported affordable and effective health care for all. He signed a law in 2010 to expand needed access to dental services by allowing licensed dentists to provide volunteer care at a nonprofit health clinic, which can then receive payments from the state. The clinics can use the Medicaid funding to pay for dental care costs such as equipment and supplies. The law will help encourage more dentists to treat low-income families throughout Illinois.

Also under Governor Quinn’s leadership, Illinois proposed a five-year plan to transform the state’s healthcare system, including strengthening the state’s health care workforce, to meet the needs of Medicaid beneficiaries. If approved, the proposal would allow the state to obtain $5.2 billion in federal matching funds over five years to implement the plan.

Governor Quinn has signed multiple pieces of legislation to clarify and expand the scope of practice for certain health care professionals in order to ensure that Illinois residents have access to the health care they need. He also supports efforts to streamline and expedite veteran applications for professional licenses to benefit military families seeking employment and consumers seeking access to qualified health care professionals.

Connecticut | Governor signs legislation protecting Good Sams for administration of Narcan

Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) Commissioner Pat Rehmer and other state and local officials, today held a bill signing ceremony for legislation (Public Act 14-61) that grants civil and criminal liability protection to a bystander who administers Naloxone Hydrochloride (known as Narcan) in good faith to someone who has overdosed.
The new law is focused on reducing fatalities resulting from heroin and prescription drug overdoses. Narcan is a prescription medication that reverses an opioid overdose. It can be administered by a layperson with minimal training and is most commonly available as either an injection or nasal spray.
“As we work to implement strategies that will prevent overdoses and reduce over-prescribing, it is also imperative that we remove potential barriers to Narcan use,” said Governor Malloy. “This legislation may encourage someone to act to save a life and be the catalyst that causes someone battling addiction to seek treatment.”
The bill signing ceremony followed Governor Malloy’s participation in a multi-state Governor’s summit on Opiate Addictions earlier in the day in which the Governors announced a strategy addressing the epidemic that has impacted families and communities across the New England region.
Connecticut has been actively involved in efforts to combat deaths from overdoses including rapidly linking opiate addicted individuals to medication assisted treatment like Methadone, redoubling efforts to educate the public on the dangers of prescription drugs and heroin and implementing widespread drug take back days and prescription drug drop boxes to safely dispose of unneeded medication.
“We recognized that heroin-involved clients were cycling through detox and not getting priority access to Methadone. The Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services treatment protocol works to interrupt that cycle” said Commissioner Rehmer.  “We have not narrowly focused on one or two services but offer a broad spectrum of treatment and recovery support services.  We have funded care managers in high need areas so they are available to assist individuals who are ready to access treatment.  We have outpatient services, detox services, residential services, peer support and recovery support services.  Our prevention efforts include prescription drug take back days, prescription drug drop boxes and media campaigns to increase public awareness.”
“Drug overdose is a leading cause of death due to injury in the United States, and among people 20-64 years old, drug overdose causes more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen.  “Naloxone (Narcan) is a safe and effective prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose.  Last week, the scope of practice for all licensed Connecticut EMS providers was expanded to include the administration of Naloxone.  This expansion, like this good Samaritan legislation, is an important strategy that will help prevent deaths in Connecticut due to opioid overdose.”
“Our focus has been on limiting improper access to pharmaceutical opioids,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said.  “The state’s Prescription Monitoring Program is an important tool that helps pharmacists and prescribers assure that only medically necessary prescriptions are filled.  Our partnership with municipalities to provide convenient medication drop boxes takes no-longer-needed drugs out of homes and away from the easy reach of potential abusers.  While prevention and treatment of opioid abuse remains a high priority, this new law will help save the very lives that our prevention and treatment programs hope to help.”
“Drug related overdoses have increased significantly and are the leading cause of accidental deaths in Connecticut,” said State Representative Gerald Fox III, House Chair of the Judiciary Committee (D-Stamford).  “Citizens should not fear prosecution in attempting to save a life.  Enhancing access by allowing non-medical personnel to carry and administer Narcan, a drug overdose medication, is a step towards treating the epidemic we are experiencing.  Saving lives while protecting good Samaritans is good policy.”
In 2012, Governor Malloy signed Public Act 12-159 to allow prescribers to provide naloxone prescriptions to individuals in close contact with a person struggling with opioid addiction so that a medical intervention can occur in the case of an opioid overdose.

Newfoundland and Labrador | New Act supports the rollout of 911 service

The Provincial Government is introducing legislation to provide improved access to emergency services to residents by expanding Basic 911 telephone service province-wide.

Bill 14, An Act to Establish and Implement a Province-Wide 911 Telephone Service for the Reporting of Emergencies, will receive second reading in the House of Assembly today.

“The legislation introduced today is the next step towards establishing a province-wide service that expands Basic 911 to serve all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Emergency 911 Act enables us to establish a governing body for the service, appoint a Board of Directors, and finalize arrangements with telecommunications providers, and 911 call-taking services, also known as Public Safety Answering Points. With the work of our 911 Implementation Team ongoing, we are on track to launch this service by December 2014.” – The Honourable Steve Kent, Minister Responsible for Fire and Emergency Services-NL

Based on the results of an external consultant’s report released in 2012, the Provincial Government committed to implementing a province-wide Basic 911 service by December 2014, and a 911 Project Implementation Team was established to work towards this goal.

To create the 911 service, a governing body will be established, known as the NL 911 Bureau Inc. The bureau will function as a non-profit corporation, responsible for establishing and operating the emergency 911 telephone service and a Board of Directors will be appointed to oversee the operations of the bureau.

As part of the implementation of the expanded service, subscribers of wireless and landline telephone service will be charged a monthly levy fee, which will be under $1.00 per month. This fee will pay for the operation of the NL 911 Bureau which includes expansion of Basic 911, funding for development and implementation of Next Generation 911 and further technological advancements.

“The Basic 911 service is an important building block and a necessary step towards establishing Next Generation 911. With this legislation, and the other ongoing work being undertaken by the 911 implementation team, we applaud the Provincial Government and are encouraged by the progress to date towards the launch of a solid emergency service.” – Vince MacKenzie, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Services

Once province-wide Basic 911 service is expanded, 911 will be available to all residents via landline and/or wireless telephones, where a cellular signal can be accessed. In addition to being an improvement over the emergency call service that is in place today, it is an essential interim step towards Next Generation 911.

Details regarding various aspects of the legislation, as well as definitions of 911 services, can be found in the backgrounder below.

QUICK FACTS

  • Approximately 40 per cent of the province’s population is currently covered by Basic 911 service on landline telephones (Northeast Avalon Region, Corner Brook/Bay of Islands Region, Labrador City and Wabush).
  • Once Basic 911 service is expanded, 100 per cent of the province’s population with landline and/or wireless telephone service where a cellular signal is available, will have access to Basic 911 service.
  • Arrangements with telecommunication service providers for the collection and remittance of telephone levy fees will apply and will be less than $1.00 per line, per month.

Georgia | New law promotes concussion caution

Georgia has a new law designed to protect children and teens from the deadly effects of concussions.

The Return to Play law, which was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in April and went into effect Jan. 1, aims to prepare schools to take appropriate, safe action when a young athlete has a concussion.

Georgia’s Return to Play law calls for concussion management policies within each school system that should raise awareness about these injuries with school staff and youth athletes’ parents, establish the actions that should be taken when an injury occurs during practices or games and requires each concussed athlete to get clearance from a medical professional before they can return to their sport. Youth sports leagues outside of schools are required to provide parents with information about concussions at the start of their sport’s season.

With the new law, Georgia joins 43 other states in the adoption of concussion legislation, part of a growing national awareness of the dangers of head injuries for children and teens.

“Concussion injuries are not new to youth sports. These injuries are often considered as just a ‘bump on the head’ or getting your ‘bell rung.’  But doctors and researchers are discovering that these injuries are much more serious, especially to young athletes,” said Carol Ball, program consultant in the Office of Injury Prevention at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).

Harold King, manager of sports athletic training and community outreach at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), said many Georgia schools and club sports already take precautions when it comes to athletes who may have concussions. But he said the law encourages all sports programs, including those at private schools and in recreational leagues, to take concussions seriously.

“All the programs should be on the same page,” he said. “This law puts us in line with the national standard of care for concussions.”

Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury, happen when a person is hit hard enough to disrupt the way the brain normally works. Although a hit can be hard enough to knock a person out, most people don’t lose consciousness when they get a concussion. More often, they show a range of signs and symptoms – anything from headaches, nausea and fatigue to confusion, dizziness and feeling irritable or depressed.

To fully recover from a concussion, an athlete needs complete rest, not only from sports but from school, homework, even watching television or using computers. Recovery time can last from days to weeks, depending on how long it takes the athlete’s symptoms to completely fade away.

“Each athlete is different, and each concussion needs to be dealt with based on how it affects that individual,” King said. “An athlete’s individual symptoms and individual recovery determine when they can return to their sport.”

The problem has been convincing coaches, parents and the athletes themselves of the importance of taking time to recover from a concussion. King and his colleagues at CHOA are working to educate everyone – doctors, nurses, coaches, athletic trainers and parents – about the signs and symptoms of concussions and when it is safe for athletes to return to the game. CHOA describes the latest science and strategies for evaluating concussions in its concussion reference guides for doctors, parents and coaches.

DPH encourages schools and sports leagues to go above and beyond the law by requiring coaches and sports staff to take extra concussion management training courses, many of which are available online and take only one or two hours. The Georgia High School Association and the Georgia Independent School Association have already exceeded the law by requiring such training for coaches.

For more information about concussions, check out Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Federation of State High School Associations or CHOA’s concussion program.

Northern Territory | Emergency Management Act goes to Parliament this week

New emergency laws will go before Territory Parliament this week aimed at ensuring authorities can more effectively respond to disasters.

“The new Emergency Management Act gives authorities the powers they need to protect Territorians in disasters and help a community recover once an emergency has passed,” Chief Minister Adam Giles said.

“The new laws bring the Territory into line with the rest of the country and follow the lessons learnt from emergencies in other jurisdictions such as the Queensland Floods and the New Zealand Earthquake.

“The old Disasters Act focussed too heavily on response and did not give authorities the flexibility or time they needed to help communities recover.

“One of the main changes is formalising the ‘Emergency Situation Declaration’ which can be used for lower-scale events such as predicted or localised flooding, as well as low-grade tropical cyclones.

“It will give authorities the power to evacuate an area, ban people from entering an area or remove property from an area that is affected by an emergency.”

Member for Daly Gary Higgins has experienced flooding events in his electorate many times and says the new ‘Emergency Situation Declaration’ will help locals as well as the authorities when water rise along the Daly.

“There have been numerous occasions in the past where fishermen have accessed the Daly River community while the river has been flooded. The river is extremely dangerous when it’s in flood and monitoring sightseers diverts resources away from assisting the community. This legislation now formally gives Police and Emergency Services the power to prevent sightseers accessing the flood zone,” Mr Higgins said.

Other changes include:

  • The duration of a State of Emergency declaration has been extended from two to three days with the option of further extensions. This is an important recognition that some emergencies such as floods may take many days to pass.
  • Allowing an Emergency Declaration to stay in place while recovery operations are conducted to ensure the affected area gets priority access to government resources
  • The establishment of a new Territory Recovery Coordinator who is responsible for coordinating the resources needed to recover after an event.

“The new Act should give Territorians confidence that when an emergency strikes authorities have the powers they need to help impacted communities,” Mr Giles said.

 

Western Australia | Strong response to emergency services legislation review

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has met with over 1,300 people and received more than 200 submissions so far in the review of Western Australia’s emergency services legislation.
Following a number of reports and recommendations, the review was established in November last year to ensure the legislation governing fire and emergency services is contemporary and working as effectively as possible.
During the first of a four stage process, DFES sought the opinions of local governments, volunteers, volunteer associations, and other stakeholders on the current legislation, and received 219 submissions.
The review has now entered the second stage and over the next few months DFES will host working groups to examine issues arising from the review.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson said he was impressed with the strong response that had been achieved in the first stage of the process.
“The opinions and responses put forward will be carefully considered before a submission is put to the Minister, and I look forward to seeing even more people and organisations contributing to this important review,” Commissioner Gregson said.
“This review is about how to provide fire and emergency services personnel all over Western Australia with the best support possible, and the outcomes will be guided by the people involved in the process.”
After consultation is complete, a draft concept paper will be made available for public comment.
Information on the legislative review process and each of the four stages can be found on the DFES website at www.dfes.wa.gov.au/legislationreview.

Illinois | New legislation to crack down on violent flash mobs

Governor Pat Quinn signed an innovative new law that will crack down on individuals who use electronic communication or social media to organize a violent flash mob.

The legislation is designed to respond to a recent uptick in such crimes which have taken place in downtown Chicago. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure the safety of all people in every community across Illinois.

“Violent mob action, organized by social media or cell phone, is a troubling trend in cities and we must do everything possible to stop it in its tracks,” Governor Quinn said. “Nobody should have to worry about a violent mob attack when going about their daily lives. This new law will crack down on these flash mobs and help improve public safety and the quality of life in our cities.”

Sponsored by State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), Senate Bill 1005 allows a judge to hand down an extended prison sentence to anyone convicted of mob action who used social media or text messaging to organize it. This legislation is in response to a growing trend of large groups using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to organize flash mobs to commit crimes.

Current Illinois law allows judges to impose a one- to three-year prison sentence for those convicted of using social media or electronic communication to organize or solicit a violent flash mob. The new law, which passed the General Assembly with near unanimous support, will increase the penalty to three to six years in prison.

“Not only on Michigan Avenue, but throughout the city, criminal flash mobs have the capacity to discourage tourism and economic activity,” State Sen. Raoul said. “This new law sends a signal that we’re serious about creating a safe, welcoming environment, both for our residents and our guests.”

“This is not only about the crimes taking place downtown, but also about what’s taking place in neighborhoods throughout the city every single day,” State Rep. Mitchell said. “In the city of Chicago, gangs have changed. They are now using social networks to organize and mobilize violent activity. The intent of this legislation is to update our laws to reflect how people are using technology to organize crimes in our neighborhoods. If criminals incite others to commit violent acts, then they will be held more accountable.”

The new law takes effect immediately.

Research | Benefit of cycle helmet laws to reduce head injuries still uncertain

The authors say that, while helmets reduce head injuries and their use should be encouraged, in the context of existing safety campaigns, the impact of legislation seems to be minimal.

Cyclists are vulnerable road users and head injuries among cyclists account for 75% of cycling related deaths. But debate exists about whether or not helmet legislation is an effective strategy to reduce serious head injuries among cyclists of all ages.

So a team of researchers based in Canada examined changes in the rate of cycling related head injuries associated with helmet legislation in young people and adults, while accounting for baseline trends in the rate of cycling injuries.

Between 1994 and 2008, there were 66,716 hospital admissions for cycling related injuries, 30% of which were head injuries.

During this time, there was a substantial and consistent fall in the rate of hospital admissions for cycling related head injuries across Canada.

Reductions were greatest in provinces with helmet legislation. However, the researchers point out that admission rates were falling before the implementation of provincial helmet legislation and, after taking baseline trends into account, did not seem to change in response to legislation.

“When baseline trends in cycling related injury rates were considered, the overall rates of head injuries were not appreciably altered by helmet legislation,” they say.

They conclude: “While helmets reduce the risk of head injuries and we encourage their use, in the Canadian context of existing safety campaigns, improvements to the cycling infrastructure, and the passive uptake of helmets, the incremental contribution of provincial helmet legislation to reduce hospital admissions for head injuries seems to have been minimal.”