RCW 18.73.150 allows ambulance services established by volunteer or municipal corporations or an association made up of two or more municipalities in rural areas to qualify to use non-medically trained people to drive ambulances, with approval from the Department of Health (department).
Below are questions and answers about ambulance service eligibility criteria, requirements for non-medically trained drivers, and the process to request approval from the department to use non-medically trained drivers.
- What ambulance services qualify to use non-medically trained people to drive ambulances?
An ambulance service established by volunteer or municipal corporations or an association made up of two or more municipalities.
The department can help you determine if your EMS service qualifies. Contact the department at 360-236-2851 or email us.
- What is a municipal corporation?
A municipal corporation is the legal term for “a local governing body, including but not necessarily limited to cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships.” (Merriam-Webster).
A municipality is defined as “a public corporation established as a subdivision of a state for local governmental purposes.” (Washington State Department of Revenue, 2017)
A corporation is defined as “a more complex business structure. A corporation has certain rights, privileges, and liabilities beyond those of an individual. Doing business as a corporation may yield tax or financial benefits, but these can be offset by other considerations, such as increased licensing fees or decreased personal control. Corporations may be formed for profit or nonprofit purposes. Filing with the Washington secretary of state is required.” (Washington State Department of Revenue, 2017).
A municipality is not always a corporation. A corporation is not always a municipality. Please check with appropriate leadership within your organization to determine if your ambulance service is a volunteer or municipal corporation.
- What is an association made up of two or more municipalities?
An association is defined as “an organization of persons having a common interest.” (Merriam-Webster). For example, two towns who provide a joint ambulance service.
- What is the definition of a volunteer?
A volunteer is defined as “a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.” (Merriam-Webster).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), National EMS Workforce Data Definitions document, defines volunteers as "licensed EMS workers who receive nominal or no compensation for their provision of EMS services at the agency."
Nominal means 20 percent or less than what a public EMS service would otherwise pay to hire a full-time person for the same services.
The following categories will be used to identify the ambulance service staffing model. Ambulance services will indicate on the Department of Health EMS Service License and Verification Application which staffing model they use:
- Paid: All staff members are compensated.
- Volunteer: All staff members are volunteer.
- Combination: A combination of any of the following:
- Some staff members are paid.
- Some staff members are volunteer and receive some form of nominal compensation.
Some staff members are volunteer and receive no compensation.
- How do I determine if my ambulance service is in a rural area?
Rural is defined in WAC 246-976-010 as “unincorporated or incorporated area with a total population of less than ten thousand people, or with a population density of less than one thousand people per square mile.” Ambulance services may reference our EMS and Trauma GIS map to see if their service falls within the census block identified in WAC, or contact the department at 360-236-2851, or by email, for assistance in making this determination.
- What background checks does the Department of Health provide?
The department has authority to perform background checks only for people applying for healthcare certifications and licenses. The department does not have the authority to perform a background check on non-medically trained ambulance drivers because they are not applying for a certification or license.
Ambulance services seeking approval to use non-medically trained people to drive ambulances must perform a Washington State Patrol name and date of birth background check on each non-medically trained person they plan to use as drivers.
- Where do I go to get a Washington State Patrol background check?
See the WATCH website for information on how to obtain a Washington State Patrol name and date of birth background check.
- How do I know if a person's background check meets the requirement?
If the Washington State Patrol name and date of birth background check has been completed and shows no offenses, the requirement has been met. Background checks will need to be completed on all non-medically trained ambulance drivers used by the EMS service and must be repeated for all non-medically trained ambulance drivers when the EMS service renews its EMS service license every two years.
- What do I do with the background check once it is completed?
The department will not collect background checks performed on non-medically trained ambulance drivers. It is recommended that the ambulance service keep a copy of the background check in accordance with its recordkeeping policies, procedures, and retention schedules.
- How do I know if a non-medically trained person's driver's license is valid and has no restrictions?
The ambulance service is responsible for determining if the driver's license is valid and has no restrictions. Most ambulance services perform a driving record check on personnel who are hired or volunteer to work on ambulances.
- What do I do with the driving record check once it is completed?
The department will not collect driving record checks performed on non-medically trained ambulance drivers. It is recommended that the ambulance service keeps a copy of the driving record check in accordance with its recordkeeping policies, procedures, and retention schedules.
- How does my ambulance service get approved to use non-medically trained people to drive an ambulance?
Complete and submit the EMS Service Verification and Vehicle License application to the department following the instructions on the application. If you have questions about the application or process, please contact the department at 360-236-2851 or by email.