House wants firefighters to be certified medical first responders

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

February 7, 2023, 5:29 pm

<p><em>PNA file photo</em></p>

PNA file photo

MANILA – A measure requiring personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to be certified medical first responders and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) has hurdled second reading at the House of Representatives.

During Tuesday's plenary session, the chamber passed via voice vote House Bill 6512, which seeks to amend Section 4 of Republic Act No. 11589, or the Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Act.

The measure seeks to strengthen the mandate of the BFP in providing emergency medical and rescue services by ensuring the operational readiness of the emergency medical services (EMS) team on duty.

Antipolo City Representative Romeo Acop, author of the bill, said existing policies do not impose any standard as to the type and quality of EMS and related emergency response training.

Acop also noted that the delivery of EMS continues to evolve and mature, and the profession has faced unique challenges that are not encountered by other allied health care professions.

"While aware of these challenges, this representation nonetheless believes that a mandatory training to qualify our fire officers in EMS and as certified first responders will go a long way in further strengthening the BFP in achieving its mission in the best way possible," he said.

A newly-appointed fire officer (FO1) shall be required to undergo and complete the Fire Basic Recruit Course (FBRC), which shall provide the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to meet the minimum standards of fire personnel competence, including advanced first aid and emergency first response.

Upon completion of the FBRC, the appropriate certification as medical first responder shall be issued accordingly.

In addition to their training and certification as medical first responder, the BFP personnel designated as fire station emergency medical technicians shall also be required to be duly certified as emergency medical technicians.

In every fire station, at least one uniformed BFP personnel per shift, regardless of rank, shall act as an EMT who will supervise fire officers in responding to medical emergencies.

Uniformed personnel who are already in the service shall be given five years to obtain the minimum certification requirement as medical first responder.

The BFP, in coordination with the Department of Health, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to design and establish a training program for emergency medical technicians.

The EMT training expenses and fees for those who are already in the service shall be shouldered by the BFP.

BFP personnel who have rendered more than 15 years of service shall be exempted from complying with the certification as medical first responder or as emergency medical technician. (PNA)