Politics & Government

S. Carolina battles over whether paramedics' names should be secret

HILTON HEAD, S.C. — Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Chief Lavarn Lucas, who is in charge of the town's Emergency Medical Services, wrote to state legislators Friday stating his support for a bill that would open public access to some EMS records.

His letters come just ahead of a South Carolina House subcommittee hearing Wednesday on the bill.

Lucas criticized a state EMS group's opposition to a provision of the bill that would make public paramedics' names.

"It is unfortunate that the S.C. EMS Association has taken a stand to block some of the public's access to vital information," Lucas wrote to Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee. "I do not support the position of the S.C. EMS Association."

Officials from the S.C. EMS Association lobbied the Senate last month to keep responders' names secret, arguing EMTs are health care workers, like nurses and doctors, who must be protected from unfair scrutiny.

Lucas and Hilton Head Mayor Tom Peeples have rejected that claim, saying nurses and doctors, unlike EMTs, typically work for private facilities -- not local governments -- and should be subject to public scrutiny.

Peeler, chairman of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee, filed the EMS bill, which would repeal a 2004 law restricting public access to almost all EMS data.

The bill, which would open access to incident reports and other operational EMS data, passed the Senate last month with an amendment that keeps confidential the names of emergency responders.

Lucas echoed his comments in a letter to Rep. Leon Howard, D-Columbia, chairman of the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee, or 3M Committee.

Read the full story at islandpacket.com