'Duty to Act' Could Soon Be Reversed

Thursday, November 27th 2008, 7:55 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

OKLAOMA CITY -- The next time a call is made to 911, an ambulance may not be on the way.
Emergency officials are considering changing a rule that will impact thousands.

Emergency responders in Oklahoma have a Duty to Act, a responsibility to help a person in need or contact a neighboring ambulance service to respond.

Noble Fire department EMTs are often going out of their district for emergencies, traveling to rural communities that have lost service due to lack of funds.

Rodney Johnson, an EMT, said that could change, but at a cost.

A committee that regulates ambulance service wants to reverse the Duty to Act rule.

"What that will mean is if you live outside of an ambulance districts' primary response area that ambulance service no longer has a responsibility or a duty to act and respond to that emergency call," Johnson said.

Convincing state leaders to help with funding could be a tough battle, but Representative Wallace Collins will fight for emergency responders this session and hopes the public will, too.

"The citizens of that State of Oklahoma expect fire protection and ambulance service and I think it's the government's job to provide that," Collins said. "One the other hand if we can't provide it without some additional fees, we're going to have to infuse some money into the system someway."

The State Department of Health is holding a public forum at the Metro Tech Springlake Campus on Friday at 1 p.m.