MARQUETTE — Day two of the UP–EMS Conference began with talk about a bill that Senator Tom Casperson is working on that would help EMS workers out in the long run.

A few years ago, the state of Michigan adopted federal standards when it came to blending first responders with paramedics. Casperson’s bill, if passed, would drive the control of EMS workers down to the local or county level, making it easier to coordinate their efforts, especially in rural areas like the Upper Peninsula.

“The standards will still be there, but they’ll work and coordinate with our first responders through training and what’s allowed and what’s not allowed and have some of that authority given to our local people. That’s where EMS started,” said Casperson.

“We’ve gotten away from that and we’ve tried to control it mainly from Lansing down, or even in same cases Washington down. That’s getting a little too far away from our first responders. We’re trying to, with the legislation, drive it back to the locals and give them some control,” he added.

“We need champions in Lansing that understand EMS, but they understand the rural issues about it,” said UP–EMS Executive Director Bob Struck. “It’s certainly what we have to continue with in the Upper Peninsula is far different than in the metropolitan areas. We need every resource that we can and the legislatures have heard it. This is one of the best things that’s happened to EMS in forever.”

Casperson’s bill has yet to be presented in the state house or the senate. The UP–EMS Conference runs through Sunday.

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