Bill helps veterans become EMTs

Legislation that would make it easier for veterans who have served as medics to be certified as civilian emergency medical technicians will be introduced by the Central Coast’s congressional representative when lawmakers reconvene next month.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, a sponsor of the legislation, said it will enable medics to “take the skills they used on the battlefield and help their fellow citizens here in the U.S.”

“Our military men and women receive some of the best technical training in emergency medicine — and they prove their skills on the battlefield and at military installations around the world every day,” according to a news release from Capps’ office.

However, “when experienced military medics return home, they are often required to take entry-level curricula to receive certification for civilian jobs,” Capps said. “This keeps our veterans out of the work force and withholds valuable medical personnel from our communities.”

Capps said the bill, known as the “Emergency Medic Transition Act of 2011,” would:

 Encourage state health departments, through federal grants, to create a fast-track Emergency Medical Technician certification path for honorably discharged members of the Armed Forces with military emergency-medical training, and to provide reimbursement for the cost of a certification fee;

 Give priority to applicants who will serve in areas with high demand for emergency care;

 Provide required coursework and training to military veterans that take previous coursework and training into account, thus avoiding wasting time and expense;

Build partnerships between states and universities, colleges and technical schools to establish a fast-track certification path by developing appropriate curricula to build on military medical training.

Capps said returning veterans too often have trouble finding work, and the government should help them.

“Ensuring every veteran has access to a good paying and satisfying job is the least we can do for those who have worn our nation’s uniform,” according to Capps.