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U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Appoints Two New Members to Advisory Boards to Provide Technical Advice on EMS to NHTSA

May 21, 2014

WASHINGTON – As health professionals across the country mark National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the appointment of two leaders in the emergency medical services field to boards that advise the U.S. Department of Transportation and its federal partners on all EMS matters and related issues.

On April 21, Secretary Foxx appointed Mr. Harris Blackwood to the National Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council (NEMSAC) and Mr. Joe Schmider to the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS).

“The leadership and professional expertise of Mr. Blackwood and Mr. Schmider will help the Department ensure that the nation’s emergency response services have the most up-to-date information to help save lives,” said Secretary Foxx. “The EMS programs at the Department of Transportation will be enhanced by the input and perspective of these two individuals and their colleagues.”

Mr. Blackwood’s appointment to NEMSAC became effective April 21. He is the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety representative for the State of Georgia and currently serves on the Governors Highway Safety Association board of directors. Administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), NEMSAC provides expert advice and recommendations to the Department of Transportation and its federal partners on key issues including recruitment and retention of EMS personnel, quality assurance, data collection and EMS education.

Mr. Joe Schmider was appointed to FICEMS to represent State EMS Directors. He is currently the State EMS Director for Texas and was formerly EMS Director for Pennsylvania. Joe served in several other positions within the Bureau of EMS at the Pennsylvania Department of Health. He also chairs the Domestic Preparedness Committee for the National Association of State EMS Officials.

In 2005, Congress created FICEMS in order to ensure coordination among Federal agencies supporting local, regional, State, tribal, and territorial EMS and 9-1-1 systems. FICEMS and its member agencies work to improve the delivery of emergency medical services throughout the nation through federal support and guidance. By statute, FICEMS is comprised of representatives from the Departments of Transportation (DOT), Homeland Security (DHS), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Defense (DoD), as well as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and one State EMS Director.

“Millions of motorists each year rely on the expertise, commitment, and compassion of EMS professionals,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “These well-trained first responders have contributed to our nation’s progress in reducing traffic deaths and injuries. We owe them an incredible amount of gratitude for their selfless work in responding to all medical emergencies.”

Nearly everywhere in America, dialing 911 brings help where it’s needed. On any given day, thousands of America’s 212 million licensed drivers call 911 for emergency help. In 2009, EMS treated and transported over 28 million people.

First responders are often put at risk for death and injury while making a traffic stop, responding to crash scenes or assisting a motorist. All 50 states have “Move Over,” laws, requiring motorists to move over and change lanes to give safe clearance to public safety officials. NHTSA is working closely with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and other public safety partners to increase awareness of “Move Over” laws nationwide and to develop technologies which can help reduce risks faced by public safety personnel who are performing their vital work at the roadside.

Since the 1960’s, NHTSA has worked closely with partners around the country to provide critical tools for improving EMS systems that include educational materials and resources for state and local EMS personnel and technical support for universal 9-1-1 systems. NHTSA works closely with federal partner agencies through the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) and receives expert guidance through the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC).