It has been reported in the past few days that the United States Customs & Border Protection (CBP) is working with San Antonio based Angel Staffing, a company that provides staffing services during disasters and public health crises to government agencies, to hire National Registry Certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and Paramedics (EMT-P) to help screen passengers arriving in the United States from high risk ports of origin for the Ebola virus.
These emergency medical technicians are expected to be staffed at New York’s JFK International Airport, New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport, Washington Dulles, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International and Chicago O’Hare.
Never mind that JFK Airport, the airport that serves as the primary gateway for these flights, only generally receives less than 200 passengers per day that would receive scrutiny upon arriving from these points of origin according to the CBP, or that offering EMTs and Paramedics US$19 and $29 per hour for these positions is insulting … there is a red tape situation that is likely to occur in this being implemented at JFK, Newark or Atlanta.
Government agencies, licensing and regulatory bodies rarely work hand in hand, and red tape can throw any plan off course which is likely to occur here. As CBP and Angel Staffing have made it a requirement that all applicants be registered with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NR-EMT/NR-EMT-P), the candidate pool becomes extremely slim in New York, New Jersey and Georgia … why?
Not all states recognize the National Registry or offer the National Registry, either at specific levels or all level of certification. Among those states that it would be problematic to find those certified as National Registry Certified are … you guessed it … New York, New Jersey and Georgia.
For now CBP is working with United States Coast Guard Corpsmen, who have completed their EMT-B training at the Health Services Technician ‘C’ School … although they are generally not National Registry Certified as most U.S. Military Corpsmen are not certified to operate as EMTs in the civilian environment.
Rather than testing individual passengers entering the United States, U.S. Customs & Border Protection should look into multiple person temperature screening channels, such as those used in Hong Kong and Taipei, that everyone passes through. The health screening channels can handle dozens of people simultaneously and identify those with an elevated temperature. These health channels with personnel who watch everyone walking through them are effective, reduce costs and do not impede the arrivals process.