Congress Steps Up

EMS development nationwide made limited progress after the 1966 report on accidental death and disability. That year’s Highway Safety Act had funded some regional ambulance growth and tied state transportation funding to EMS elaboration, but this carrot/stick approach was only marginally successful.

John McDade -- an original Alexandria practitioner -- had a brother in the House of Representatives and helped arrange for the ACEP corps to meet Congressman Paul Rogers, chair of the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Rogers and Senator Alan Cranston became the primary sponsors for EMS Systems Act of 1973, which provided major funding and federal support for local and regional EMS, research on EMS, and training.

The country was primed: The week before hearings on the bill President Johnson died; CPR was tried but failed. Senator John Stennis of Mississippi was shot the night before hearings, and nearly died. The role of emergency services in both incidents was dissected during debate. President Nixon vetoed it the first time around, narrowly avoiding an override. The bill passed after an unrelated provision on rural hospitals was removed.

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