A bill to create a state certification for emergency medical responders (EMRs) unanimously passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Monday and will be placed on the Senate’s consent calendar for consideration by the full chamber.

Tom Martinec, deputy secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health, said that adding certification for EMRs will supplement the state’s emergency medical technician (EMT) workforce without sacrificing the quality of care. Senate Bill 48 would add another rung to the EMS career ladder with the establishment of the EMR certification, which would require 60 hours of training as opposed to 180 hours for EMTs.

According to the bill’s language, the EMR is “any person certified by the Department of Health trained to provide simple, noninvasive care focused on lifesaving interventions for critical patients. The emergency medical responder renders on site emergency care while awaiting additional emergency medical services response from an emergency medical technician or higher level personnel. An emergency medical responder may not make decisions independently regarding the appropriate disposition of a patient. An emergency medical responder shall function with an emergency medical technician or higher level personnel during the transportation of a patient.”

Some 30 states including North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska currently certify EMRs. The South Dakota EMS Association, the American Heart Association and local emergency responders testified in support of the bill, which is also supported by SDAHO.