News & Resources

Background screenings a major issue for EMS industry

Feb 16, 2011 Matt Roesly

One of fastest-growing trends in EMS employment is requiring those applying for positions to go through background screenings. New legislation in states all over the country has begun forcing those in the EMT and paramedic fields to be fingerprinted and have their backgrounds checked for a criminal history. The recently passed SB 116 in New Mexico would make anyone in the field of emergency services go through the stricter screenings as a way to protect those in their care. In some states, such as California, people would simply go from one local EMS company to another in order to find those that were less strict about background screenings. According to industry expert Art Hsieh, workers in the industry needed to be thoroughly vetted. "Lancaster EMS could not share their information easily, and the resulting gaps allowed folks with serious criminal backgrounds access to the privacy of patients," Hsieh wrote for "Through a lot of hard work, the state went through a process that consolidated background checks on all EMTs at the state level, and created a registry that will eventually contain all certified EMTs in the state." Other industries have been calling for stricter background screenings. WFTV revealed that employees in Seminole County, Florida, were not subject to checks, despite the fact that some worked with children.