Citing the need for a 24-hour emergency hotline for Filipinos, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go filed Senate Bill 394 or the “Emergency Medical Services System (EMSS) Act of 2019” to institutionalize an emergency medical services system in the country to respond to emergency needs of Filipinos nationwide.
“Dapat maging mabilis, maayos at maaasahan ang serbisyo ng gobyerno pagdating sa oras ng sakuna at iba pang medical emergencies,” he said.
Go explained that it is high time for government to provide an effective and organized EMSS system to properly address the immediate concerns of Filipinos who encounter medical emergencies.
“Matagal na itong pangarap ng bawat Pilipino na magkaroon ng emergency number kung saan makakahingi tayo ng tulong mula gobyerno. Meron na tayong Emergency 911 hotline na itinatag ni Pangulong Duterte. Mas palakasin pa natin ito sa pamamagitan ng pag-institutionalize ng isang komprehensibo na Emergency Medical Services System,” Go said.
Go added that the bill aims to set up a system that would give government the necessary tools and capabilities to respond to medical emergencies encountered by Filipino families.
“Ito ang magsisiguro na merong sapat na mga personahe, pasilidad, kagamitan at transportasyon na magagamit para sa epektibo, organisado at agarang paghahatid ng mga health and safety services para sa mga biktima o may sakit na kailangang masaklolohan kaagad,” he added.
Under the proposed measure, all LGUs are mandated to establish an emergency medical service system for their area of jurisdiction as well as dispatch centers where constituents can call in cases of emergencies.
They shall also ensure the availability of adequate emergency transport vehicles or ambulances with qualified EMS personnel. A nationwide emergency hotline number will be established to enable the public to access emergency medical services.
The bill also states that a dispatch center will be set up for all LGUs which will be fully integrated and connected to the National Command Center. The dispatch centers will link all Filipinos with the emergency resources of the government.
When implemented in a nationwide level, Go’s bill states that the public will just have to dial a dedicated hotline number and the responder will be able to attend to the emergency situation. This bill also mandates the creation of minimum number of plantilla positions for EMS personnel in the all government hospitals/health facilities.
Once the bill is passed into law, an EMSS Council will be established with the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as Chairperson of the Council and the Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) as Co-Chairperson. Other head of agencies will also be part of the council namely the heads of DOTR, DICT, OCD, TESDA, CHED, Philippine Red Cross, and Philhealth.
The EMSS council will serve as the primary agency responsible for promoting and crafting a national policy and system of emergency medical response.
It will also be mandated to develop national standards for the provision of emergency medical services to include, among others, the skills and competencies required for EMS personnel and the development of mandatory national emergency medical services treatment protocols to be observed by EMS personnel and such other entities as it may consider appropriate.
Moreover, the EMSS council will ensure the establishment of a system of networking and coordination among all existing government health agencies, LGUs, and private and non-government medical institutions for the effective implementation of this Act. It will monitor compliance by all LGUs and government and private health facilities to the standards and requirements set out.
Among its other functions, it will also aim to integrate the training and study of Standard Basic Life Support and First Aid in different kinds of situations and emergencies in the curriculum of all public and private tertiary educational institutions.
As proposed in the bill, funding for the creation and implementation of the EMSS will be sourced from appropriations of all concerned agencies and local government units. Additional funds and possible fund sources as may be necessary for the implementation of this Order shall be identified and provided by the Department of Budget and Management.
Aside from the proposed EMSS Act, Go also filed Senate Bill 400 or the “Anti-Prank Callers Act of 2019” which prohibits mischievous or malicious telephone call made to trick or fool the person on the other line.
This is to prevent the improper use of telecommunications devices on emergency hotlines and will penalize these malicious acts. Such behaviors are described as calls made with the intention to annoy, abuse, threaten, harass, or solicit any comment, request, suggestion or sound which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent, or a call intending to make false requests or false alarm of an emergency, knowing the report or information or alarm to be false.
The measure seeks to complement Go’s proposed Emergency Medical Services Systems (EMSS) Act of 2019 which provides for the formalization of an emergency service hotline desk akin to the 911 system in Davao City.
Go emphasized that the EMSS system once put in place and operational must be used responsibly. Therefore, a legislation to curb prank calling must be put in place.
“Meron pa ring mga kababayan nating gumagawa ng prank calls sa mga hotlines natin. Dapat pong maitigil ang panlolokong ito, lalo na dahil sa bawat nasayang na oras dahil sa panloloko, buhay ng isang tao ang nakasalalay,” Go said.
Penalties range from arresto menor and a fine of P5,000 for the first offense to prision correccional and a fine of P20,000 for the third and succeeding offenses.
“Pagdating sa kalusugan ng mga Pilipino, dapat maging mabilis, maayos, maaasahan at komprehensibo ang serbisyong medikal na ibinibigay natin,” Go said adding that making quality healthcare more accessible to all Filipinos is one of his top priorities in the Senate.
Healthcare access has been one of the priority concerns of Go. It can be recalled that to formalize his Malasakit Center initiative which began in 2018, he filed the Malasakit Center Act last July 2 to ensure that all Filipinos gain access to these one-stop shops for goverment medical assistance.###