Days before the 18th Congress officially opens on 22 July prior to President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address, newly-minted Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has already started fulfilling his duties as a legislator, coming up with a measure to institutionalize an emergency medical services system in the country.
Citing the need for a 24-hour emergency hotline for Filipinos nationwide, Go filed Senate Bill 394 or the Emergency Medical Services System (EMSS) Act of 2019, saying that it is high time for government to provide an effective and organized system to properly address the immediate concerns of Filipinos in medical emergencies.
“Government services should be swift, orderly and reliable in times of disasters and other medical emergencies,” Go said. “Filipinos have dreamed of having an emergency number they can rely on to for government assistance.”
The President’s former top aide stressed that the EMSS will reinforce Mr. Duterte’s Emergency 911 hotline and added that the proposed measure is aiming to set up a system that would give government the necessary tools and capabilities to respond to medical emergencies of Filipino families.
“This bill will ensure that there will be enough personnel, facilities and transportation that can be utilized to effectively deliver health and safety services to Filipinos who are in an emergency situation,” Go said.
Once the bill is passed into law, an EMSS Council will be established with the secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government as chairperman of the council and the secretary of the Department of Health as co-chairman, while other heads of agencies will also be part of the council — namely Transportation, Information and Communications Technology, Office of Civil Defense, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Commission of Higher Education, Philippine Red Cross and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
The EMSS council will serve as the primary agency responsible for promoting and crafting a national policy and system of emergency medical response.
Go also explained that funding the creation and implementation of the EMSS will be sourced from appropriations of all concerned agencies and local government units (LGU), while additional funds and possible fund sources shall be identified and provided by the Department of Budget and Management.
Under this proposed measure, all LGU are mandated to establish an emergency medical service system in their areas of jurisdiction, as well as dispatch centers where constituents can call in cases of emergencies.
They shall also ensure the availability of adequate emergency transport vehicles or ambulances with qualified EMSS personnel. A nationwide emergency hotline number will be established to enable the public to access emergency medical services.
The bill also states that a dispatch center will be set up for all LGU, which will be fully integrated and connected to the National Command Center. The dispatch centers will link all Filipinos with the emergency resources of the government.
When implemented in a nationwide level, Go’s bill states that the public will just have to dial a dedicated hotline number and the responder will attend to the emergency situation. This bill also mandates the creation of a minimum number of plantilla positions for EMSS personnel in the all government hospitals and health facilities.
It will also be mandated to develop national standards for the provision of emergency medical services to include, among others, the skills and competencies required for EMSS personnel and the development of mandatory national emergency medical service treatment protocols to be observed by EMSS personnel and other entities as it may consider appropriate.
Moreover, the EMSS Council will ensure the establishment of a system of networking and coordination among all existing government health agencies, LGU and private and non-government medical institutions for the effective implementation of this Act. It will monitor compliance by all LGU and government and private health facilities to the standards and requirements set.