For many years, fire and EMS departments have struggled with both day-to-day and large-scale events that require their EMS providers to provide patient care across state lines. This is troublesome not only to departments that are located along state borders and participate in mutual-aid responses across state lines, but also to any department responding to mass-casualty incidents across state borders when the incident has not yet been declared a disaster by the state’s governor.
Fire departments bear the additional burden of routinely deploying resources into other states for wildland fire suppression. In these instances, cross-trained fire/EMS providers may find themselves having to function in an EMS capacity even though their primary mission is firefighting.
In 2014, a national advisory panel, consisting of almost every fire and EMS association, met at the request of the Department of Homeland Security to address the issue of allowing EMS personnel to work across state lines without having to be licensed in multiple states.
Spearheaded by the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO), a smaller writing group drafted language for an interstate compact, and the final product was agreed upon and released by NASEMSO. REPLICA (the Recognition of EMS Personnel Licensure Interstate CompAct) was the compact language released to states in late 2014 for adoption.
In order for the compact to go into effect, a minimum of 10 states have to adopt REPLICA. This means that each state must pass legislation through their governing bodies, agreeing to the rules of the compact and signing on as a compact member.
Since 2014, seven states have passed the required legislation and have signed on. As of February 2017, eight more states are considering adoption this year, which means the compact could go into effect during 2017.
From the start, it seemed apparent that implementation would take several years, owing to state legislative cycles as well as the need for each state to review the compact and determine if they want to become a member or not.
As states continue to pursue adoption, a number of concerns are being raised, questioning some aspects of REPLICA. In several states this year, there has been testimony against REPLICA and the recommendation that this compact not be adopted by their governing bodies. Some of these concerns include the lack of radio interoperability, interference in interstate commerce, lack of quality control and a loss of states’ rights in overseeing EMS.
Despite the fact that REPLICA Advocate Sue Prentiss has attempted to address these concerns, enough doubt has been created that some legislatures have killed the legislation and others are delaying it to another session.
While this is somewhat disheartening, Prentiss and members of the IAFC’s EMS Section continue to work with the IAFF, state labor associations, state fire chief’s associations and other state agencies to address these concerns, show the benefits that can be attained and ensure them that REPLICA is not an attempt to usurp states’ rights.
In the very near future, I will be coauthoring with Sue another article that addresses the issues that have been conveyed to us; hopefully, this will help to ease the concerns of all involved and lead to adoption in more states.
In the meantime, I would strongly encourage you to visit the REPLICA website for more information about the compact. If you still have questions after reviewing the site, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I’ll do my best to address your questions or concerns.
As an agency that sends wildland resources out of state and as a state that routinely receives resources to help us fight wildland fires, REPLICA ensures that these deployed personnel can provide EMS care to citizens or other public-safety personnel in need. While this is only one example of what REPLICA covers, there are many other instances that occur on a daily basis that REPLICA addresses as well.
Public safety doesn’t stop at the state line, so why should the ability of qualified fire/EMS personnel to provide this critical service stop here?