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Assemblymember Rodriguez Advances Legislation to Combat Ambulance Patient Offload Delays

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA) – Today, Assembly Bill (AB) 40, authored by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D – Pomona), passed out of the Assembly Committee on Emergency Management with a vote of 5-0. AB 40 would require the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) to take urgent actions to address the chronic issue of ambulance patient offload time (APOT), which is also known as “wall time.”

“As a career first responder, I know firsthand how unduly wall times have been an issue for decades. Over 20 years ago, I waited more than 12 hours on the wall. Recently, my son, a police officer in LA County, informed me that a patient was transported by police car due to not having available ambulances. I have also heard from colleagues in the fire service that patients are being transported by fire engine. This is unacceptable and we must implement a standard to get our first responders off the wall and back out responding to their next call expeditiously,” stated Assemblymember Rodriguez.

Among the urgent actions AB 40 would require EMSA to take, EMSA would be required to establish a statewide standard for APOT at 20 minutes and require general acute care hospitals with emergency departments to meet that standard 90% of the time. Additionally, hospitals would be required to develop an APOT reduction protocol by June 1, 2024, file the protocol with EMSA and require EMSA to monitor monthly APOT data to ensure the standard is being met.

In November 2021, the Ambulance Patient Offload Time Committee was established to provide advisory recommendations to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the EMSA on how best to mitigate ambulance patient offload delays (APOD). The Committee included representatives from the CDPH, ambulance, firefighter, hospital, physician, and nurse groups.

On June 29, 2022, the Committee approved a recommendation that legislation be considered to authorize a statewide standard of 20 minutes 90% of the time. According to a 2020 EMSA report, “roughly 70,000 Californians wait over an hour on an ambulance gurney once they arrive at the hospital before their care is assumed by the emergency department staff and they are moved to a bed.”

“When Californians call 9-1-1 for emergency services, they expect immediate care and transport to a hospital. Unfortunately, extended APOT has caused this to no longer be the reality. AB 40 takes the Ambulance Patient Offload Time Committee’s recommendations into account to provide obtainable solutions to ensure patients are not waiting hours seen by medical staff,” stated Assemblymember Rodriguez.

Assemblymember Rodriguez (Twitter) represents the 53rd Assembly District which includes the cities of Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, and Upland. He is Chair of the Assembly Committee on Emergency Management.