Excel as a High-Performing Agency

An emergency medical services policy in the works

Students undergo Emergency Medical Technician training. Forest Service photo.

WASHINGTON — The Forest Service is developing an Emergency Medical Services program to ensure our employees receive prompt and trained emergency medical care when an accident, illness or injury occurs in the course of their work.

As part of our Safety Journey, it has become clear that Forest Service policy on emergency medical training and the provision of emergency medical care by employees is in need of change. This program will establish a partnership with the National Park Service, which already has a unified EMS policy, to develop Forest Service policy. This policy will establish guidelines as well as see to the provision of a medical director to oversee emergency medical training and service.   

“The decision by the Chief and the Executive Leadership Team is a great step forward in our effort to ensure our employees receive the emergency care they deserve,” said Patti Hirami, Associate Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry. 

Agency leadership is committed to working quickly to establish the program in ahead of the 2018 field and fire season. The program will include the establishment of treatment protocols and equipment guidelines. One of the more critical aspects of the EMS program, will be to define the scope of the Forest Service’s emergency medical services program so that it is consistent with the Forest Service mission.     

This does not mean the Forest Service is changing its mission. The objective is not to become a rural ambulance service, or a primary provider of emergency medical services to the public.  It does mean we are taking steps to resolve long-standing gaps in manual direction, resolve liability questions and take better care of our employees. 

As work progresses to develop this program, information will be shared in a variety of ways. Resources such as question and answer documents, presentations, and podcasts will be made available in the coming months as the policy develops.