WVOEMS rescinds memo ordering unlicensed fire departments to stop EMT services

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Fire departments across West Virginia can now get back to helping people with medical emergencies after temporarily having to stop over the weekend.

The West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services sent a memo Friday to fire departments across the state saying fire departments using EMT’s and following basic life support treatment without proper licenses had to stop responding to calls immediately.

The agency says it’s a violation to carry or provide medical attention to a patient unless it is a licensed agency – doing so is considered practicing medicine without a license.

“We dug into it a little bit and found out that there was some language that changed in state code in 2011 and the language was omitted, and we don’t know if that was on purpose or unintentional,” said Lance Carney, St. Albans Fire Department.

Chief Carney says there were no medical calls to respond to this weekend. He says the order put his community and others around the state at risk.

“There’s been numerous medical emergencies in St. Albans and all across the state, I can’t take the chance of sending my guys if they are not properly licensed,” Chief Carney said.

Saturday, after word of the shutdown spread, the state did back down, rescinding the order. It said in an updated letter, “The WVOEMS values and appreciates the work that our first responders perform every day and will work in an expedited manner to help the fire departments get properly licensed,” Vicki Hildreth, Interim Director of the West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services.

“We are a lot closer to an emergency, medical emergencies than the ambulance and we respond in our fire trucks and try to remedy that situation,” Chief Carney said.

Chief Carney says they will be looking into getting their own license through the state as soon as possible so something like this doesn’t happen again.

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